Typical dreams: stability and gender differences

J Psychol. 2004 Nov;138(6):485-94. doi: 10.3200/JRLP.138.6.485-494.


Although the variability of dream content is large, typical dream themes that occur quite often and are reported by many people can be identified (e.g., being chased, falling, flying, failing an examination, being unable to find a toilet or restroom). The present study is an investigation of the stability of the rank order of the dream themes and of gender differences in the content of dreams. The authors administered A. L. Zadra and T. A. Nielsen's (1997) Typical Dream Questionnaire to 444 participants. The findings indicated that most of the 55 dream themes occurred at least once in most of the participants' lifetimes. In addition, the correlation coefficients for the rank order of the themes were very high; that is, the relative frequencies were stable. The gender differences in the present study were in line with content analytic findings; for example, men reported dreams about physical aggression more often than did women. Overall, previous research and the present data indicate that available research results of the measurement of typical dream themes are reliable and valid. The question of the meaning of these themes or the relationship between typical dream contents and waking life experiences, however, has not yet been answered and is open to future research.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dreams*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires