Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size

    Do Dreams Reveal Hidden Truths?

    Study Shows People in Diverse Cultures Believe Dreams Contain Important Insights
    WebMD Health News

    Feb. 19, 2009 -- Everybody dreams, but just what do our dreams mean?

    From Socrates and Descartes to Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, history's best-known philosophers and psychoanalysts have weighed in on the subject.

    Are dreams, as Freud and Jung believed, a window into our unconscious selves, or merely the not-so-meaningful by-products of sleep-related neural firings?

    The question is still hotly debated by dream researchers, but most people outside the field seem to have made up their minds, shows a study published in the February issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

    Six separate surveys of very different populations showed that people tend to believe that their dreams reveal hidden truths about themselves and the world, says psychologist and study researcher Carey K. Morewedge, PhD.

    In fact, the surveys showed that for many people dreams carry more weight than their conscious thoughts.

    "People tend to think that dreams reveal hidden emotions and beliefs and they often find them to be more meaningful than thoughts they might have when they are awake," Morewedge tells WebMD. "But we also found that people don't attribute equal meaning to all dreams."

    Dreaming Is Believing

    In one study designed to determine if people from different cultures and backgrounds have similar beliefs about the meaning of dreams, Morewedge and colleague Michael Norton of Harvard Business School asked college students to rate different theories about the importance of dreams.

    The survey group included science students from the U.S., economics students from India, and students in South Korea enrolled in a psychology class.

    Across all three cultures, the vast majority of students endorsed the idea that dreams reveal hidden truths. This was also found to be the case in a survey of a nationally representative sample of Americans.

    In a study designed to explore how dreams influence waking behavior, the researchers asked commuters in Boston to imagine one of four possible scenarios happening the night before a scheduled plane trip: consciously thinking about the plane crashing, hearing that the terrorist threat level had been raised, dreaming about a plane crash, or hearing about a real crash on the route they planned to take.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
    Take your medication
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Hungover man
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Woman worn out on couch
    Happy and sad faces
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    laughing family