Factors Influencing The Dream Memory

The theories and hypotheses of dream research for dream memory are all based on different trait and state factors. Even if these can be clearly named, the problem remains of the extent to which the individual factors can be measured and how they influence each other.

Depending on the type of study, dream researchers repeatedly come up with completely different results, as both the structure and the evaluations of the influencing factors differ each time. Nevertheless, the abundance of research results reveals at least one tendency as to whether and to what extent some influencing factors have an effect on dream memories.

Influences on dream memories and their meanings

Numerous studies of dream research have dealt with the individual influencing factors. Interestingly, the results show that there is still no clear result regarding some factors, since the fluctuations within the research results are sometimes enormous and the conclusions sometimes even contradict each other completely.

Sociodemographic and genetic factors

With regard to the sociodemographic and genetic factors that influence dream memories, research currently only agrees that there are virtually no definite answers. There is, however, agreement that middle-aged women remember their dreams more often than men. If, on the other hand, other age groups are taken into account, this difference no longer seems to exist.

Regardless of gender, there is no reliable evidence that age influences the frequency of dream memories. It has only been proven that children and adolescents have dream memories more often than older people or middle-aged people. The assertion that older people remember dreams more often than younger people can no longer be sustained. The differences in both directions in the research results on this topic are too great.

Looking at dream research studies from a socio-economic point of view, it can only be said that the number and quality of dream memories are higher in affluent and educated social classes than in socially weak ones. There are currently no reasons for this, but it could simply be touching that people from these social strata simply have more time for and interest in their dreams and therefore remember them more often.

There is agreement in the science of dream research that there are no genes that influence the ability to remember dreams. Although there are not many studies in this particular field, they all conclude that there is no relationship between the frequency of dream memories and the degree of kinship, neither in monozygotic twins nor in fraternal twins or siblings.

Influences of personality traits and structure

Individual personality traits and personality structure have a much greater influence than objectively ascertainable factors such as gender, age or genetic ancestry. Exactly this poses a great challenge to the scientists, because no standardized personality test is suitable for the holistic assessment of the psychological structure of each individual participant. Nevertheless, they are suitable for recognising certain basic patterns and for seeing which psychological characteristics seem to be connected with the tendency to certain dreams and the frequency of dream memories.

Intelligence does not play a role in dream memories, not even verbal intelligence. Only individual special mental abilities can influence dream memories, but more qualitatively than quantitatively. For example, if you have a particularly quick grasp, you can usually remember more details of your dreams than someone who does not possess this ability.

Positive effects:

  • Creativity
  • Spiritual openness
  • Interest in dreams
  • Emotional sensitivity
  • stress sensitivity
  • Psychological problems / illnesses

Negative effects:

  • Disinterest in dreams
  • Poor visual memory
  • lack of imagination
  • General Relevance

Influence of mental disorders and medication

It is no secret that mental disorders affect the dreams of those affected. But such disorders also have an effect on dream memories. On average, mentally ill people have fewer memories of their dreams than psychologically healthy ones. This is especially true for people with depression. Depressives often seem to remember that they dreamt, but the content of their dreams remains hidden and excessively frequented. It is not yet clear why this is so.

Possible explanations would be that the mostly unpleasant dream contents are simply suppressed or also that the dreams trigger such intensive emotional and physical reactions that the contents are thereby simply forgotten. The person then only has the certainty of having dreamed. However, this is not an actual dream memory.

Mark C. Beaver

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