On the correspondence between dream content and target material under laboratory conditions: A meta-analysis of dream-ESP studies, 1966-2016

Lance Storm, Simon J. Sherwood, Christopher A. Roe, Patrizio E. Tressoldi, Adam J. Rock, Lorenzo Di Risio


In order to further our understanding about the limits of human consciousness and the dream state, we report meta-analytic results on experimental dream-ESP studies for the period 1966 to 2016. Dream-ESP can be defined as a form of extra-sensory perception (ESP) in which a dreaming perceiver ostensibly gains information about a randomly selected target without using the normal sensory modalities or logical inference. Studies fell into two categories: the Maimonides Dream Lab (MDL) studies (n = 14), and independent (non-MDL) studies (n = 36). The MDL dataset yielded mean ES = .33 (SD = 0.37); the non-MDL studies yielded mean ES = .14 (SD = 0.27). The difference between the two mean values was not significant. A homogeneous dataset (N = 50) yielded a mean z of 0.75 (ES = .20, SD = 0.31), with corresponding significant Stouffer Z = 5.32, p = 5.19 × 10-8, suggesting that dream content can be used to identify target materials correctly and more often than would be expected by chance. No significant differences were found between: (a) three modes of ESP (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition), (b) senders, (c) perceivers, or (d) REM/non-REM monitoring. The ES difference between dynamic targets (e.g., movie-film) and static (e.g., photographs) targets approached significance. We also found that significant improvements in the quality of the studies was not related to ES, but ES did decline over the 51-year period. Bayesian analysis of the same homogeneous dataset yielded results supporting the ‘frequentist’ finding that the null hypothesis should be rejected. We conclude that the dream-ESP paradigm in parapsychology is worthy of continued investigation, but we recommend design improvements.


Bayesian analysis, dream ESP, ESP, meta-analysis, paranormal, psi

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2017.2.34888

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-ijodr-348881