The Quantitative Study of Dreams: By Adam Schneider & G. William Domhoff, University of California, Santa Cruz.


This Web site contains everything needed to conduct scientific studies of dreams using a system of content analysis.

Researchers or college/graduate students interested in doing quantitative research should check out the Resources for Scientists page.  If you'd like a multimedia overview of some of our methods and findings, you can watch Bill Domhoff's 2017 lecture entitled "Seven Surprising Discoveries That Changed My Thinking About Dreams," which is one of several videos featured on our Videos pageJournalists might be interested in a paper of ours that points out how the media usually go wrong in their coverage of dream research.

Also of note is our companion site,, where you can do keyword searches on thousands of dream reports.

Bill Domhoff's latest book, The Neurocognitive Theory of Dreaming, has won the American Association of Publishers' 2023 PROSE Award for the best book relevant to the "Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry" category.

What's New

05/04/23: A review of The Neurocognitive Theory of Dreaming recently appeared on the H-Net Sci-Med-Tech network.
05/04/23: Dream researcher Kelly Bulkeley has written a review of The Neurocognitive Theory of Dreaming for the Spring 2023 issue of DreamTime Magazine (download the PDF).
03/15/23: Bill has published a big-picture theoretical article (full text and PDF available) in the Spring 2023 issue of Dreaming; it explains the differing neurocognitive bases for dreaming and self-reflective (autonoetic) waking consciousness, and explains what these two mind states share in common.
02/09/23: The Neurocognitive Theory of Dreaming won the American Association of Publishers' PROSE Award for the best book relevant to the "Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry" category.
01/11/23: Bill Domhoff is featured in two episodes of Alie Ward's "Ologies" podcast.
10/28/22: UCSC has published an interview with Bill about his new book.
10/04/22: Bill Domhoff's latest book — The Neurocognitive Theory of Dreaming: The Where, How, When, What, and Why of Dreams — is available now from MIT Press.
12/30/21: Bill Domhoff's new work on the Neurocognitive Theory of Dreaming (and his book by that title with MIT Press) are mentioned in an article on dreams in the Washington Post. Unfortunately, we have doubts about much of what was said by the other researchers who were interviewed — such as the claim that there is memory consolidation during REM sleep, that brain areas that support emotions are active during dreaming, or that nightmares become a "habit."
12/20/21: Bill Domhoff's latest book — The Neurocognitive Theory of Dreaming: The Where, How, When, What, and Why of Dreams — will be published in 2022 by MIT Press.
01/23/21: Two new book chapters by Bill Domhoff are available in the Dream Library as PDFs: From Anna Abraham's The Cambridge Handbook of the Imagination, Bill's chapter provides a brief overview of the latest version of the neurocognitive theory dreams, with a special emphasis on imagination. And from James F. Pagel's Parasomnia Dreaming, new ways to use neuroimaging to study dreaming and dream content in clinical settings — but most of these suggestions apply to research settings as well.
05/07/20: We've got a new article published in Dreaming: From Adolescence to Young Adulthood in Two Dream Series: The Consistency and Continuity of Characters and Major Personal Interests [PDF].
12/23/19: Bill Domhoff's latest article, which provides an update of the neurocognitive theory of dreams and a further critique of alternative theories of dreams, is available as a PDF: "The Neurocognitive Theory of Dreams at Age 20."
12/17/19: Looking for a quick summary of neurocognitive research on dreams? Download a PDF of Bill's poster session at the 2019 meeting of the Society for the Neuroscience of Creativity 2019. (You can also download it in its original poster format.)
12/15/19: Bill Domhoff's 2003 book with APA Press, The Scientific Study of Dreams, is now available as a PDF download.
10/08/18: Two remarkable dream series from Marc Levy, a Vietnam vet, are available in book form on Amazon: Dreams, Vietnam and Other Dreams. Bill Domhoff wrote forewords to both books.
09/30/18: Newly published paper: Are dreams social simulations? Or are they enactments of conceptions and personal concerns?
02/01/18: Bill's new book, The Emergence of Dreaming, has hit the streets, and its online-only methodological appendix has been posted in the Dream Library.
12/15/17: New paper: Invasion of the Concept Snatchers!
09/29/17: Bill's keynote address to the 2017 IASD Conference, "Seven Surprising Discoveries That Changed My Thinking About Dreams," is available on YouTube and has been added to the Videos page.
12/10/16: Bill's IASD presentation entitled "We Need Bigger and Better Samples of Dream Reports" has been posted in the Dream Library.
06/20/16: A video entitled "Night Wars: The Nightmares of Vietnam Veterans" has been added to the Videos page.
02/17/16: There are two new dream series on that might be of interest to researchers. The first is from a Vietnam Veteran who still suffers from PTSD due to the fierce fighting he was involved in 45 years earlier. The second is the teenage and college dreams of "Jasmine," a woman who has an unusual form of blindness.
11/06/15: tells the story of "Ed," a widower whose dreams of his late wife are featured in our DreamBank and in a new article by Bill Domhoff.
11/05/15: Atlas Obscura features a whimsical commentary on the DreamBank by a science writer.
06/02/15: An article from Consciousness and Cognition about dreaming and the brain's default network by Bill Domhoff and UBC's Kieran Fox has been posted in the Dream Library.
06/01/15: Two statistical articles by Domhoff & Schneider have been posted in the Library: one about correcting for multiple comparisons and one about assessing autocorrelation in dream series.
09/13/14: A Videos page has been added; there are three lectures by Bill Domhoff, and a 2014 interview about his neurocognitive theory of dreams.
12/14/13: This page has been reorganized and updated a bit.
10/10/13: Bill Domhoff is a co-author of "Dreaming as mind wandering: Evidence from functional neuroimaging and first-person content reports" in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (download PDF).
05/20/12: A paper has been posted (Domhoff, 2011): The neural substrate for dreaming: Is it a subsystem of the default network?. The paper updates Domhoff's neurocognitive theory of dreams.
09/15/10: Read Bill Domhoff's working paper entitled The Case for a Cognitive Theory of Dreams.
12/18/08: Bill Domhoff and Adam Schneider have a paper in Consciousness and Cognition, describing the many findings that have been developed using the thousands of dreams and search engine available on
12/18/08: We've also published another paper, in the same issue of Consciousness and Cognition, showing that activation-synthesis theorists J. Allan Hobson and David Kahn are wrong when they say based on a study with a small sample size and a weak methodology that individual differences are not very salient in dreams. Our review of the literature and an analysis of necessary sample sizes for detecting differences shows otherwise.
04/10/08: Bill's latest analysis of findings on the realistic nature of dreams, challenging the stereotype that everything about them is bizarre, appeared as a chapter in a recent book entitled The New Science of Dreaming; it's also available in the Library.
04/09/08: On April 9, 2008, Bill Domhoff gave a lecture entitled "The Awesome Lawfulness of Your Nightly Dreams" at UC Santa Cruz's Music Recital Hall; the entire lecture is now available on YouTube, or on DVD via UC-TV.
11/27/07: An excellent article in the Washington Post contains two quotes from Bill's 2003 book, on the topic of the apparent purposelessness of dreams.
07/03/07: Bill Domhoff is quoted extensively in an article about "Big Dreams" in the Science section of the July 3 New York Times. The dream series mentioned in the article, "Ed," is available in the DreamBank, and you can also read the paper Bill wrote about the series.
05/19/07: Bill Domhoff has a paper out on how journalists sometimes go a little wrong in their coverage of dream research; you can read it in our on-line Library.
12/15/06: Posted in the Library: Dreams as the expression of conceptions and concerns: A comparison of German and American college students.
12/01/06: "Barb Sanders" is our most detailed case study; a long article outlining some of the most interesting results of our studies about her is now available in the Findings section.
02/06/06: A review of Domhoff's 2003 book appears in the Spring '06 issue of the American Journal of Psychology.
01/12/06: There are two new articles in the Library: "The content of dreams: Methodologic and theoretical implications" and "Refocusing the neurocognitive approach to dreams: A critique of the Hobson versus Solms debate."
08/12/04: An article about Bill Domhoff and a cognitive framework for dream theory appeared in the August issue of the APS Observer.
08/02/04: Our DreamBank is prominently featured in the cover story of the August 9 issue of Newsweek. Unfortunately, the article is not scientifically sound and merely reinforces existing stereotypes.
06/10/04: An article in The Guardian, "Field of Dreams," features several quotes from Bill about cognitive theory.
10/07/03: The full text of Bill Domhoff's 1996 book, Finding Meaning in Dreams, is now available in the Dream Library.
04/07/03: A skeptical review (by Bill) of Allan Hobson's book on "The Science of Sleep" appears in the March 28 issue of Science. A link to the article is available in the Dream Library.
03/27/03: Bill's updated critique of "Senoi Dream Theory" is now available in the Dream Library.
01/01/03: Domhoff's book with APA Press, The Scientific Study of Dreams, is now available from A sample chapter, "Toward a Neurocognitive Model of Dreams," is available in our site.
11/02/02: A June 2002 interview with Charity Nebbe of Michigan Public Radio is now available on-line! [2.7MB .mp3 file]
02/22/02: An interview with Bill Domhoff appears in the March 2002 issue of Discover magazine. The article is also available on-line.
11/17/01: We've added Domhoff's 2001 paper entitled "A New Neurocognitive Theory of Dreams" to the Dream Library.
09/18/00: The Dream Library is now on-line. The Library includes reprints of many scientific articles that are of use to dream researchers.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

(longer list of FAQs also available)

Q: I had a really interesting dream; can you interpret it?
I'm having problems with nightmares; can you help?
A: No and no; that's not what we do. Sorry.
Q: Why do we dream? Do dreams have a purpose?
A: No one knows for sure, but right now it looks like dreaming has no adaptive function.
Q: Do you have any general information about dreams in your site?
A: We're mostly geared toward research — and specifically content analysis — but we have put together a longer list of FAQs that you may find useful.
Q: I'm a student; can you help me with my project?
A: Based on several years of responding to queries about dream projects for school, we've found that our method of quantitative content analysis doesn't work very well for middle-school or high-school science projects because it is not an experimental method.
Q: How do I cite these pages as a reference in my research paper?
A: Here's what we recommend for an APA-style reference:
Schneider, A., & Domhoff, G. W. (2024). The Quantitative Study of Dreams. Retrieved July 15, 2024 from

Contents of This Site

Resources for Scientists

For people doing their own studies

Dream Library

Published and unpublished articles, books, and lecture notes about dream research

DreamSAT for Excel

A spreadsheet for entering and analyzing dream coding data

Interesting Findings

Established results and recent projects


Recorded lectures and interviews featuring Bill Domhoff, and other dream-related videos

About Us

More about Bill and Adam

Contact Information

E-mail and postal addresses

This Web site was created and is maintained by Adam Schneider.