Sex Roles

, Volume 12, Issue 9, pp 1009-1021

First online:

Working mothers versus homemakers: Do dreams reflect the changing roles of women?

  • Monique Lortie-LussierAffiliated withUniversity of Ottawa
  • , Christine SchwabAffiliated withUniversity of Ottawa
  • , Joseph De KoninckAffiliated withUniversity of Ottawa

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In order to examine potential psychological changes arising from women's new social roles, 15 working and 15 nonworking mothers were asked to report dreams collected within a period of three weeks. In addition, they were administered the Jackson Research Personality Form. Two dreams from each subject were analyzed with selected scales which previous studies had shown to be sensitive to sex differences. On the personality inventory, working mothers were found to have higher social recognition and achievement motives. On the dream content measures, discriminant analyses showed that the two groups could be statistically differentiated on the basis of several scales. In accordance with the notion of continuity between waking and dreaming, working mothers experienced more unpleasant emotions, more male characters, and less residential dreams settings than homemakers. The latter group, surprisingly, had more overt hostility in its dreams. These results suggest that as the trend toward carrying the dual role of wage earner and homemaker is expanding, the gender differences typically observed in dreams content may decrease. They also suggest that the analysis of dream content may prove useful to study the strategies of women adapting to role changes.