Dream reflecting cultural contexts: comparing Brazilian and German diary dreams and most recent dreams

Gotthard G. Tribl, Franziska Beuerle, Mateus C. Trindade, Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho, Joana Pires, Egberto R. Barbosa, Michael Schredl


The continuity hypothesis states that waking life experiences, e.g., personal concerns and cultural environment, are reflected in dreams. The present study’s goal was to compare written dream reports from Brazilian and German samples. Overall, 97 Brazilian participants were included; two German samples from previous studies (N=89 and N=4197) were selected for comparison. The Brazilian participants reported 328 and the German participants 348 diary dreams. In addition, 86 Brazilian to 2893 German most recent dreams were compared. For both types of collected dreams, we found more bizarreness in German reports, and more depression-related topics in Brazilian reports. Germans reported more aggression in diary dreams and both more problems and more extreme emotions in most recent dreams. Brazilians reported more work- and leisure-related topics in diary dreams. Several similarities in dream content, e.g., no differences in verbal and physical interaction, number of male and female characters, and death-related themes, hint at universal characteristics of dreaming across cultures. We consider the clear group differences in dream content to reflect basic patterns of Brazilian and German cultures, which is exemplified through some core topics of the respective cultural sets. Concerning Brazil, the themes of miscegenation, emotional culture, and “saudade” (“longing”) are discussed. For German culture, the area of conflict between long-standing high-performance in science and arts and the contrasting twentieth century history is addressed. Future research should study the relation between dream content and culture in representative samples; to this purpose dream diaries, sampling daily average dreams, seem preferable to most recent dreams.


dream content; Brazil; Germany; cultural comparison; continuity hypothesis

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2018.2.48406

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-ijodr-484062