Threats in dreams, emotions and the severity of threatening experiences in waking

  • Joseph De Koninck (Author)
    School of Psychology University of Ottawa Canada

    Emeritus Professor

    School of Psychology

    University of Ottawa

  • Simon Bradshaw (Author)
  • Alexandre Lafreniere (Author)
  • Reza Amini (Author)
  • Monique Lortie-Lussier (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


One of the prepositions of the Threat Simulation Theory (TST) suggests that the experience of threatening events in waking life would be associated with the experience of oneiric threats, which is consistent with the Continuity hypothesis. Following on that proposition, dream diaries and daily event diaries of the day preceding the dreams were collected from 40 female and 40 male undergraduate students who rated the intensity of anger and fear experienced during the day and in the course of their dreams. The severity and frequency of threatening events in both conditions was evaluated by two independent judges on a scale developed on the basis of the severity component of Revonsuo’s Dream Threat Scale. There were significant correlations between the severity of threatening day events and the severity of threats in dream diaries (r(80) = .22, p = .048), and between the frequency of daytime threats and dream threats (r(80) = .41, p = .001). There were also significant correlations between pre-sleep anger and anger in dreams (r(80) = .39, p = .01, and between fear before bedtime and the severity of dream threats (r(80) = .33, p =.003).  In addition, different gender-specific relationships emerged, coincident with the consistently observed predominance of negative emotions in women’s dreams. These findings provide some support for both the Threat Stimulation Theory and the Continuity hypothesis. Further exploration over a longer time frame is required to better understand the relationship between these emotions experienced in waking and dreams.


Contributor or sponsoring agency
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Dreaming, Threat Simulation Theory, Dream Threats, Waking Threats
How to Cite
De Koninck, J., Bradshaw, S., Lafreniere, A., Amini, R., & Lortie-Lussier, M. (2016). Threats in dreams, emotions and the severity of threatening experiences in waking. International Journal of Dream Research, 9(2), 102–109.