The Function of Dreams in Adaptation to Stress Over Time

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Abstract

The function of dreams in adaptation to stress over time was investigated. Male subjects (N = 93) were randomly administered either an easy or difficult version of a sham intellectual aptitude test as a differential stress manipulation. Subjects’ reports of presleep and morning mood, dream pleasantness, and dream content were then examined over a six-day period following administration of the stressor. We hypothesized that the pattern of changes observed in mood and dream experience would correspond with the oscillation between mastery and avoidance dreams predicted by the disruption-avoidance-adaptation model of dream function. Results indicated that exposure to the high stress situation was associated with an apparent oscillation in dream pleasantness and concomitant affect over time. Implications for the model are discussed.

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