'Hidden Truths' Are in Those Dreams

Three-hundred forty-one pedestrians were surveyed in Cambridge, Mass., and people who believed in the Freudian theory of the subconscious were more influenced by their dreams than were nonbelievers, but "regardless of the theory of dreams that they endorsed, participants considered dreams to be more important than similar thoughts occurring to them while awake..." the study found.

Sixty undergraduate psychology students at Rutgers University were asked whether they believed in God on a five-point scale ranging from definitely to doubtful. "Not surprisingly, believers rated dreams in which God spoke to them as more meaningful than did agnostics," the study found. Also, not surprisingly, "agnostics reported that dreams were more meaningful when God suggested that they should take a year off to travel the world than when God suggested they should take a year off to work in a leper colony."

The Role of Dreams in Our Waking Lives

Consistent throughout the study is the thread that dreams do play a role in the waking lives of most people. They come from within and, thus, contain "hidden truths" that could be useful in real life, or so most of us believe.

The researchers end their report by cautioning that dreams can cause a bit of mischief.

"Dreams of spousal infidelity may lead to suspicious accusations, alienating one's spouse and potentially provoking actual infidelity," they cite as one example. But they go on to add that dreams of infidelity may also be based on fact.

"Dreams may integrate seemingly unrelated evidence -- unexplained credit card charges, smudges of lipstick, distant behavior -- into a correct diagnosis of infidelity," the study suggested.

But they are still just dreams. Not many psychologists would embrace the idea that dreams are a clear window into the inner self, and that they can predict the flight you are supposed to take later today is going to crash.

"We close by noting that, although dreams are unlikely to predict future world events, it is possible that they may provide some hidden insight into diurnal life in the way that laypeople believe they do," the study concluded.

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