Dream Study Article Review
Columbia Southern University
Dream Study Article Review
If you have ever watched a scary movie right before bed, only to lie awake nervously avoiding closing your eyes for fear that you may have a bad dream, this next bit of information might interest you. “As the poet Edgar Allan Poe suggested, the line between being awake and being asleep can become blurry at times. What we see during the day can influence what we dream about at night” (Van Den Bulk, Cetin, Terzy, & Bushman, 2016). It is a common assumption of many theories on the origin of dreams that what we see during the day in the real world can influence our dreams at night (e.g., Nielsen & Powell, 1992; Schredl, 2003). If so, then the same question must also ask whether or not our dreams at night can affect how we behave when we’re awake.
In an article entitled “Violence, sex, and dreams: Violent and sexual media content infiltrate our dreams at night” the authors discuss the results of a study to determine whether dreams can affect the way people behave during day to day life, and whether the things people experience during their lives while they are awake can affect what their dreams are made of. The study involved 1,287 Turkish individuals between the ages of 10 and 60, with 600 of the participants being children of both sexes, and the other 687 comprising of adults, both male and female, from social networking sites. After carefully logging information from their personal lives including age, gender, mobile phone habits, television habits, and internet habits, among other things, the subjects were questioned about the number of dreams they had at night and of those how many were violent, sexual in nature, or both. After this information was collected, the subjects where participants in a controlled experiment in which some subjects where shown violent or sexual content prior to sleep. Once awake, the subjects were again asked whether their dreams consisted of violence or sexual content. The results were very telling. In both cases, the numbers grew substantially. While there was a large spike in violent dreams boys and men, the dreams with sexual content increased the most. However, while there was a very large hike in the number of dreams with sexual content in young men, the dreams of older men didn’t seem to be nearly as affected. The same stood true in women; while the number of women whose dreams contained sexual content did rise, it was the dreams containing violence that showed the most increase. The idea is that, in the long term, people who see violence might become violent themselves, and people who are exposed to sexually charged media may become more likely to be involved with sexually related incidents.
Since the study was conducted in Turkey and with Turkish subjects, one could assume that the cultural differences between them and another country such as the U.S. would be quite large. This study is based on environmental conditions, therefore, the results would expect to be somewhat different based on the fact that both sex and violence are far more harshly censored in Turkey. Daily exposure to sex and violence would most certainly change, one way or the other, the number of dreams and actions tied to the experiment. Also, the fact that Americans aren’t fearful of being judged or prosecuted for their answers, perhaps more Americans would admit to having such dreams. My assumption is that some Turkish subjects, no matter what the number is, chose not to answer truthfully, based on Turkeys very strict laws.
Behaviorism is defined as an approach to psychology that emphasizes the study of observable behavior and the role of the environment and prior experience as determinants of behavior (Wade & Tavris, 2017). “Birds of a feather flock together” sums up the idea that people who behave the same tend to associate with one another. The environment around us tends to have a very large role in determining who we are and what we choose to do in day to day life. The idea that the Turkish subjects would tend to shy away from the truth regarding their dreams comes from the fact that they are typically scrutinized in their society for such thoughts or behavior. On the contrary, Americans who live in a culture where there is an increasing acceptance of both sex and violence may be less hesitant about answering truthfully. If the study would have been about something less “socially scandalous” for the Turkish, perhaps they would have been more inclined to be truthful.
Dreams often have an influence on how people behave. When a child has a nightmare, that child will be fearful even after the dream is over and the threat has been eliminated by waking up. The child may seek comfort from parents or by hiding under the covers. Another factor to consider is that the physical body is still disturbed long after the person is aware mentally that the threat was imaginary. An accelerated heart rate and a hefty dose of adrenaline will keep the child charged for quite a while. On a good note, dreams can have positive effects on people as well. People have reported being able create masterpieces in engineering design and art after seeing the creation in their dreams. The subconscious mind is tapped very deeply during dreams. Leonardo De Vinci said that a large number of his works were first thought of while in a “dreamlike” trance, that he induced himself by using incents and meditation.
Like the Turkish subjects who were conditioned to be potentially unwilling to admit to thoughts of sex and violence, Americans have been conditioned by heavy doses of violence, via social media, music, and television, to look less harshly upon violent behavior. It’s as if Americans have become accustomed to seeing stories of violence on the news so often that they don’t really condemn violent behavior like they once did. Approximately half of Americans are now ok with the idea of open borders that allow people to enter America unchecked, even though one can turn to the news on any given week and see headlines of illegal immigrants rapping or killing innocent Americans. The fact that so many are willing to allow people entry without a screening process lends to the idea that they don’t care if the people entering have criminal records or intend to commit crimes after entry. It seems crazy to imagine someone who would be willing to open their own front door to a complete stranger and inviting them in with no questions asked. It also seems very dangerous to most.
The fact remains, the world has been change by constant exposure to violence. The lessons in the textbook are backed up by this study and should be used as part of a strategy to reverse the trend of violence in America. Perhaps Americans can learn something from the Turkish society. It would be nice if lessons like this were taught in all classrooms in America, at least then students might have a chance of avoiding being negatively conditioned to except behaviors of sex and violence as common place.
Van den Bulck, J., Cetin, Y., Terzi, O., & Bushman, B. J. (2016). Dreaming. Vol. 26. (4), Dec, 2016 (pp. 271-279)
Nielsen, T. A., & Powell, R. A. (1992). The day-residue and dream-lag effects: A literature review and limited replication of two temporal effects in dream formation. Dreaming, 2, 67–77. 10.1037/h0094348
Schredl, M. (2003). Continuity between waking and dreaming: A proposal for a mathematical model. Sleep and Hypnosis, 5, 38–52.
Wade, C., & Tavris, C. (2017). Psychology (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
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