A phenomenological study of reflective awareness in dreams: Characteristics of attention, memory, and anticipation

Ming-Ni Lee


The objective of this study was to (1) document the diverse forms of cognition and attention that occur during dreaming and (2) articulate the qualitatively different profiles of the forms of cognition and attention that constitute classes or categories of reflective awareness during dreaming. Seventy introductory psychology students (68.1% females, 31.9% males, mean age = 19.8 years, SD age = 2.5 years) participated for partial course credit. Participants were asked to describe the dream that had most significantly influenced their thoughts and feelings after awakening during the preceding three months. Then, participants were asked to respond to a series of open-ended questions that captured the diverse forms of the cognitive and perceptual (including attentional and intentional) components of reflective awareness within the dream. Finally, participants were asked to complete a Dream Reflective Awareness Questionnaire regarding numerous aspects of reflective awareness during their dreams. The results revealed five clusters of dream reflective awareness, in terms of qualitatively different combinations of attention, memory, and anticipation during dreaming. It was also found that the relationships between two patterns of dream reflective awareness (i.e., depersonalization, dual perspectives) and certain attentional and cognitive categories in dreams were significant. Potential explanations for these phenomena were discussed.


dream, lucid dreaming, reflective awareness, attention, memory, anticipation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2018.1.40338

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-ijodr-403380