More about Content Analysis

Our approach to dreams is very different from the usual ones. It is completely objective and quantitative. It does not draw on case histories, free associations, amplifications, symbolic interpretations, or any other material from outside the dream reports themselves.

Studies using our approach have yielded a wealth of findings on cross-cultural similarities, gender influences, and age differences. Our analyses of lengthy dream journals reveal that there is a large degree of consistency in what a person dreams about over several months or years, even 40 or 50 years in the two longest dream series analyzed to date. There are also striking continuities between our dream findings and waking life, making possible accurate predictions about the concerns and interests of the dreamers. These findings suggest that dreams have "meaning."

Our approach is that of quantitative content analysis. It consists of:

  1. Formulating categories with precise boundaries for all the elements appearing frequently in dreams.
  2. Determining frequencies for those categories in dreams from an individual or a group.
  3. Turning the frequencies into percentages and rates.
  4. Comparing the findings with our norms to determine what is unique about the dreams of the person or group being studied.

The following pages explain our research in more detail:

Content analysis explained

Representative samples and the quality of the data

Our statistical approach

Our Resources for Scientists page has links to everything you'll need to do your own research, including the rules to our coding system, the normative findings, blank dream report forms, and an extraordinarily helpful spreadsheet.

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