Characters, social interactions, emotions and self-representation in 7-8 and 9 -11 year olds’ dream reports: A mixed methods study
Using a mixed methods approach, this study investigates whether the content of dreams reported by 7 to 8 year olds differs significantly from those of 9 to 11 year olds. Nineteen children in the south west of England completed dream diaries at home for 14 days. The data were coded using Hall and Van de Castle’s (1966) Dream Content Analysis. The results demonstrate that despite a small sample size, significant differences were discovered between the dream reports of 7-8 and 9-11 year old children. Overall, familiar characters, aggression, emotions and self-representation increased with age. Gender differences between the dream reports and possible cross-cultural differences were also identified. Whilst some findings were concurrent with previous research, there were differences particularly with regards to the number of animals in girls’ dreams not decreasing with age; the inclusion of sexual interactions; and possible cross-cultural differences in the incidences of aggression. Qualitative analysis was employed to further explore the role of animals and the appearance of media-related phenomena on children’s dream content. Overall, the study contributes new findings to research on children’s dreams using a mixed methods approach which is underutilised in dream research with children. Further, the study offers a geographical data set for comparison with data gathered in US studies.