Ontogenetic and Gender Dimensions in a Normative Study of the Dreams of Canadians

Title: Ontogenetic and Gender Dimensions in a Normative Study of the Dreams of Canadians
Authors: Dale, Allyson
Date: 2017
Abstract: The current dissertation examined gender, cultural, and ontogenetic dimensions in the dreams of Canadians. Normative studies in the United States, Europe, and other countries have documented normative data including gender differences and compared their findings to American data to investigate cultural differences. The purpose of the present study was to extend research of this nature by establishing normative data for Canadians. Furthermore, age differences in dreams have been mostly investigated for females, with only a few studies with males, and have used a variety of methodologies and age ranges. Another objective of this study was to document, for the first time, the ontogenetic pattern of the main dream content categories from adolescence to old age for males and females. The rigorous and detailed dream diary method was used to collect dreams which were analyzed using the Hall and Van de Castle method of content analysis. The first paper consisted of two dreams each from 150 male and female young adult Canadians, ages 18-24, totaling 600 dream reports. Findings provided support for the threat simulation theory as there were more negative than positive themes overall. Furthermore, dream gender differences were consistent with those in waking and the similarity of Canadian and American culture was reflected in dream imagery, supporting the continuity hypothesis of dream formation. The final two papers examined the ontogenetic patterns of dream content for females and males respectively. The second paper consisted of 75 females across 5 age groups from adolescence to old age (12-17, 18-24, 25-39, 40-64, and 65-85) and the third paper consisted of 50 males across the same age groups with the exception of 31 males in the oldest group (65-85). The ontogenetic patterns of dream content from adolescence to old age reflected waking developmental patterns as proposed by social theories, neurobiological research, and recognized features of aging, supporting the continuity hypothesis. In terms of the theoretical implications, this work provides support for the hypothesis of the threat simulation theory pertaining to the prevalence of negative content in dreams. It also provides support for the continuity between waking and dreaming hypothesis of dream formation. Implications of these findings regarding our understanding of the sources of dream formation are described. Finally, limitations and future directions, for research examining the evolution of gender differences across the lifespan, are discussed.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/35836
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