The Relationships Between Dream Recall, Motivation to Remember Dreams, and Waking Memory Ability

Anthony Bloxham


Dream recall ability can vary between and within individuals, dependent on a number of influencing factors, including personality dimensions, number of nocturnal awakenings, and attitudes towards dreaming. Only a few studies, however, consider the possible connection of dream recall ability to general waking memory ability, or the influence of being motivated to actively remember dreams. The present survey-based study had two major aims: 1) To search for correlates and relationships between memory for dreams and memory for waking experience; 2) To address the effect of motivation on dream recall ability, split for both dream recall frequency (DRF) and dream recall detail (DRD). These questions were assessed in 57 participants who completed an online survey, consisting of questions from the Mannheim Dream Questionnaire (MADRE) and a memory exercise for an original short story. DRF and DRD were positively related, but showed different patterns of relation with the other measures. Of most interest, participants who reported high DRD also remembered the most details from the story, suggestive of an overlap between waking and dream recall ability. However, this relationship was non-linear, as the lowest memory score came from the intermediate DRD group, not the low DRD group, hence a non-significant correlation between DRD and score. DRF was unrelated to memory score, with no significant differences between high and low DRF groups, and no significant correlation between measures. This is likely due to the nature of the task being more compatible with memory for details. Correlations showed a consistent relationship between motivation and attitude measures, particularly the motivation to understand dreams. The most important points to be taken away from this study are: 1) there is apparent partial overlap between dream recall and waking memory for details; 2) being actively motivated to remember or understand dreams is an important variable to consider in future experiments; 3) and dream recall should be studied as its constituent parts of frequency and detail.


Dream recall; motivation to remember dreams; waking memory ability

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