Assessing the Day-Residue and Dream-Lag Effects Using the Identification of Multiple Correspondences Between Dream Reports and Waking Life Diaries

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Abstract

Several studies have found a high incorporation of waking life events into dreams that occur during the following night (day-residue effect), then a decrease in incorporation into dreams over the next 2 to 4 nights, followed by a resurgence of incorporation into dreams 5 to 7 days after events (dream-lag effect). These studies involve dream diary and daily diary keeping across a 1 to 2 week period, after which participants or judges give a single rating to the degree of correspondence between each dream report and each diary record. In the current study, participants (3 males, 11 females; mean age = 50.62 years) rated separately the intensity of as many correspondences as they could identify between each dream report and each diary record. From these multiple ratings, summary variables, including total number and total intensity of correspondences, were computed for periods between the daily diary and occurrence of the dream of 1 to 10 days. The dream-lag effect was not found. The day-residue effect was found for a group (n = 7) defined as having identified a below median total number of correspondences across the study. It appears that individuals who identify large numbers of correspondences dilute the day-residue effect. Suggestions are made for personality characteristics of such individuals, who display what may be akin to a Barnum effect in their response to the comparison of dream reports to daily diary records.

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