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Quantitative Summary of “Phenomenology of Dream-Reality Confusion”

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1252 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Summary of Introduction

 This study explored characteristics of a sample of general population who often/very often experience Dream-Reality Confusion (DRC) in comparison with a sample who never/almost never experience it (Skrzypinska, Holda, Szmigielska, Slodka 2018). Dream-Reality confusion occurs when one cannot or finds it difficult to determine if an event, experience, or memory took place in reality or in a dream state.

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 Researchers would not include a similar phenomenon called déja` rêvé in their measurements. Déja` rêvé (already dreamed) was the impression that a particular event had been previously experienced while dreaming (Funkhouser & Schredl, 2010; Neppe, 2015). Researchers stated the difference between déja` rêvé and DRC was in DRC one is unable to know for certain the origins of the impression or memory.

 Researchers conducted a literature review around previous studies of DRC and discovered factors that could influence a person’s likelihood to have experienced DRC. They also conducted a literature review of research about these influential factors. The factors found were personal characteristics such as boundaries, dissociative symptoms, schizotypal features, BPD features, fantasy proneness, absorption, neuroticism; sleep disturbances related to circadian rhythm abnormalities and frequent night awakenings; and dream variables such as properties, content, emotions evoked, consequences, dream recall frequency, and attitudes toward dreams.

 Researchers were unable to find any study related to DRC experience and the five-factor personality traits. They wanted to see how personality traits presents in DRC experiencing populations and non-DRC experiencing populations.

 Researcher’s questionnaire compared characteristics of DRC experiencing individuals with characteristics of those who do not experience DRC. They hypothesized that DRC experiencing participants, in comparison with non-DRC experiencing participants, would have (a) thinner boundaries, (b) more schizotypal features, (c) more dissociative symptoms, (d) more BPD features, (e) higher fantasy proneness, (f) higher absorption, and (g) higher neuroticism. They also hypothesized that DRC experiencing participants, in comparison with non-DRC experiencing participants, would more often experience (h) sleep disturbances, and (i) sleep-related phenomena, and they would have (j) higher dream recall frequency and (k) more involved attitudes toward dreams.

Summary of Methods

Participants were recruited using an internet-based strategy through announcement on social media. The announcement described the research study including a brief description of DRC and the measuring scale. Through this convenience sampling technique researchers received 406 initial replies from individuals that filled out the preliminary DRC scale. From those 406 initial replies two groups were built using random assignment to ensure the widest range of results variance. One group was composed of participants who never/almost never experienced DRC (n=42; 16 males and 26 females) and participants who often/very often experience DRC (n=40; 6 males and 34 females). 82 participants took part in the research study with a mean age of 25.14 years.

Participants were given a booklet with a demographic questionnaire (using a pseudonym) and several assessment tools to measure the traits laid out in the original hypothesis. Researchers used the following assessments: boundaries (Short-Form Boundary Questionnaire [SBQ]; Hartmann, 2011; Polish translation– experimental version), schizotypic features (Schizotypic Syndrome Questionnaire [SSQ]; van Kampen, 2006; Polish translation– experimental version), dissociative symptoms (Polish version of Dissociative Experiences Scale [DES]; Siuta, 2007), BPD traits (McLean Screening Instrument for BPD [MSI-BPD]; Zanarini et al., 2003; Polish translation– experimental version), fantasy proneness (Creative Experiences Questionnaire [CEQ]; Merckelbach, Horselenberg, & Muris, 2001; Polish translation– experimental version), absorption (Polish version of Tellegen Absorption Scale [TAS]; Siuta, 2007), five-factor personality traits (Polish adaptation of Revised NEO Personality Inventory [NEO-PI-R]; Siuta, 2006), sleep experiences (Iowa Sleep Experience Survey [ISES]; Watson, 1999; Polish translation– experimental version), sleep disturbances (Polish version of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index [PSQI]; n.d.), dream recall frequency (Dream Recall Scale [DRS]; Hołda & Szmigielska, 2011; originally created in Polish), and attitudes toward dreams (Attitude Toward Dreams Scale [ADS]; Hołda &Szmigielska, 2011; originally created in Polish).

Many of the assessments were translated into Polish for this study or previously created Polish versions were used. All were tested for reliability prior to use. The majority of assessments scored satisfactory or above (Cronbach’s α= >.81). The McLean Screening Instrument for BPD and the Creative Experiences Questionnaire both scored acceptable (Cronbach’s α= >.74).

Summary of Results

   Researchers found significant differences between the two groups of participants. Participants who experience DRC had higher rates of sleep related phenomena, neuroticism, boundaries, dream recall frequency, and attitudes toward dreams. The effect sizes ranged from medium to large. This supported 5 of the hypotheses. To test for additional verification of the other hypotheses and logical regression was conducted with non-significant results.

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Summary of Conclusions and Implications

 Researchers concluded that participants who experience DRC do have thinner boundaries, have higher neuroticism scores, more often experiences various sleep-related phenomena: lucid dreams, nightmares, recurring dreams, problem-solving dreams, presence sensing, etc., have higher dream recall, and have more involved attitudes toward dreams than those who do not experience DRC. These findings were consistent with similar research. The difference between the two groups on experiences of sleep-related phenomena was statistically significant and the effect size was large. The remaining hypotheses were not supported, but some trends were revealed. The most pronounced was the relationship between DRC and BPD features.

 Noted limitations included small sample size, selection bias by internet recruitment (many Polish households do not have internet), and self-selection bias related to experiences with DRC. However, the research results were mostly consistent with previous findings. Researchers concluded that the findings broadened knowledge about DRC. They also concluded that future studies should create a larger sample size, and that both random and targeted samples would be of interest. Researchers also wondered if a qualitative study into the nature of the memories might help determine how some are distinguished from waking experiences.


  • Skrzypinska, D., Holda, M., Szmigielska, B., Slodka, M. (2018). The Phenomenology of Dream-Reality Confusion: A Quantitative Study. Dreaming, Vol.28, No.3, p. 245-260. doi:10.1037/drm0000078


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