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Analysis of a large sample of diary dreams—how typical are these typical dreams?

Analyse einer großen Stichprobe von Träumen aus Tagebüchern – Wie typisch sind diese typische Träume?

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Typical dreams are defined as dreams with similar contents reported by a high percentage of dreamers. Up to now, the frequencies of typical dream themes have been studied with questionnaires, indicating that the rank order of 55 typical dream themes is quite stable over different sample populations. The study presented here is the first to look at the frequencies of typical dream themes in a large sample of diary dreams reported by 425 students (321 women, 64 men; mean age 23 years). Overall, almost all typical dream themes were found in the diary dreams, even though some themes occurred very rarely. The rank correlation between diary data and questionnaire data is relatively high, but for some typical dream themes like “Trying again and again to do something” and “Falling” the ranks differed considerably. Future research should adopt various ways of identifying typical dream themes (e.g. qualitative analysis of large dream samples, themes dreamers themselves identify as typical) and develop a more precise definition for each theme. This would be the prerequisite for empirical studies investigating the question why these dream themes are typical, i.e. how these dreams are related to the waking-life experiences of the dreamer.


Typische Träume werden definiert als Träume mit ähnlichen Inhalten, die von vielen Menschen berichtet werden. Bis heute wurden die Häufigkeiten von typischen Traumthemen mit Fragebögen erfasst. Es ergab sich, dass die Rangordnung der 55 Themen sehr stabil über verschiedene Stichproben ist. Die vorliegende Studie untersucht die Häufigkeiten typischer Traumthemen in einer großen Stichprobe von Tagebuchträumen, die von 425 Studierenden (361 Frauen, 64 Männer; Altersmittelwert: 23 Jahre) berichtet wurden. Es wurden fast alle typischen Traumthemen in den Tagebuchträumen gefunden, jedoch traten einige Themen sehr selten auf. Die Rangkorrelation zwischen den Fragebogendaten und den Tagebuchdaten ist relativ hoch, aber für einige typische Traumthemen, z. B. etwas immer wieder versuchen oder Fallen, waren große Unterschiede hinsichtlich der Ränge nachzuweisen. Zukünftige Forschung sollte sich darum bemühen, verschiedene Wege zu gehen, um typische Traumthemen zu identifizieren (Analyse großer Traumstichproben, subjektive Einschätzung von Träumern, welche Themen als typisch empfunden werden), und eine präzisere Definition für die einzelnen Themen zu entwickeln. Dies wäre eine wichtige Grundvoraussetzung, um zu untersuchen, warum manche Traumthemen typisch sind, d. h., wie diese Trauminhalte mit der Wacherfahrungswelt des Träumers in Verbindung stehen.

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Compliance with ethical guidelines

Conflict of interest. J. Mathes and M. Shredl state that there are no conflicts of interest.

All studies on humans described in the present manuscript were carried out in accordance with national law and the Helsinki Declaration of 1975 (in its current, revised form). Informed consent was obtained from all patients included in studies.

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Correspondence to M. Schredl Ph. D..

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Mathes, J., Schredl, M. Analysis of a large sample of diary dreams—how typical are these typical dreams?. Somnologie 18, 107–112 (2014).

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