Dream Lucidity and Assertiveness
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
ELDER, K. J. (1999). Dream Lucidity and Assertiveness. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 2. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Dream Lucidity and Assertiveness

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
Several studies have been done for the purpose of exploring personality correlates with lucid dream occurrence. Researchers have correlated optimism, positive self-concept, self-assuredness, and low anxiety with frequent lucid dreamers This study investigated whether the presence of lucid dreams is related to assertiveness. To investigate, data were collected from 60 students at a college located in Northwest, Missouri using a paper and pencil survey. The data were classified into two conditions, lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers, compared to assertiveness. There was no significant difference found with lucid dreams and assertiveness, t (158) = .984, p > .05. There was no significant difference found with the gender of the participant and aggression, t (54) = 1.49, p > .05. Finally, a non-significant difference was found with the gender of the participant and lucid dream experience, Chi Square (1) = 3.275, p > .05.

Researchers in Psychology have viewed the function and process of dreams in different fashions. Pavlov`s widely accepted thesis states that sleep is a state of irradiation inhibition serving to regenerate brain cells that have become exhausted from functioning. The process of irradiation is rarely complete. The protective inhibition does not extend to certain areas, which maintain their state of excitation and continue functioning and establishing connections. These connections are experienced as dreams (Merei, 1994). At the other end of the spectrum, Sigmund Freud`s theory states that the function of dreams is to protect sleep from disturbance by stimuli from both outside and within. The manifest dream content is a cover for the ultimate dream thought, which Freud referred to as the latent content, which always follows wish fulfillment (Merei, 1994). Freud`s views have been criticized by many. Essentially, the criticisms relate, not to the function of dreams, but to the existence of the latent dream content. However, the significance of the manifest dream content has been emphasized by many. Clark Hall, for example, stresses the importance of manifest dream material. His studies have shown that dreams deal with the same things as do waking states: everyday problems fears, attachments, frustrations, failures and obstacles. Dreams` symbols represent the actual situation of the dreamer, his view on things, his opinions or attitudes, and personality traits (Merei, 1994). Because dreaming and waking life seem to be continuous, dreaming is characterized by a high degree of reflective awareness. Kahan and LaBerge (1994) describe this as the awareness that is focused on subjective experiences, the awareness of ongoing thoughts, feelings and actions. This reflective awareness is related to lucid dreaming. Lucid dreams occur when a person becomes aware of dreaming while continuing to dream. They are typically described as being exceptionally vivid, with the person often experiencing positive affect and extraordinary control over dream self and imagery (Gruber, Steffen, & Vonderhaar, 1995). Persons can consciously direct the activities of the dream by choosing between alternative courses of action, and may move their dream bodies as desired (Blagrove & Tucker 1994). Some can change their dream scenery at will. According to Gruber, Steffen, and Vonderhaar (1995), volitional control of cognitive functioning within these dreams is often described as virtually identical with that of waking consciousness, creating the paradoxical feeling of actually being awake within a dream. Lucid dreams are generally initiated during phasic REM sleep: periods of elevated Central and Autonomic Nervous System activity as measured by increased respiration rate and irregularity, and increased eye movement activity. These findings indicate that lucidity occurs during periods of relatively high Central Nervous System activity. A possible interpretation is that sufficient CNS activity is necessary before lucidity may be attained (Kahan & LaBerge, 1994). In accordance with this research, 50% of the population have experienced a lucid dream at least one time. However, most people who have experienced a lucid dream report that they are a rare occurrence, with fewer than 10% of those surveyed regarding themselves as frequent lucid dreamers. It is possible that the activity of maintaining a self-reflective frame of reference during waking results in self-reflection, and therefor lucidity during dreaming. Finally, it is also possible that the act of maintaining a self-reflective attitude results in increased knowledge or access to inner feelings and conflicts, and it is this greater self-awareness that promotes lucidity (Gruber et al., 1995). Dream been studied in accordance with locus of control. Locus of control has been shown to correlate real-life attempts to control the environment. According to Blagrove and Tucker (1994), frequent lucid dreamers are more likely to have an internal locus of control. Individuals who believe in more internal control of waking life events are more likely to report having conscious control of dream events. Lucidity has also been related to positive self-concept, field dependence, dream recall, low neuroticism, and low anxiety. Several studies have been done for the purpose of exploring personality correlates associated with lucid dream occurrence. A result of these studies show both male and female lucid dreamers to be characterized as socially bold, dominant, experimenting, enthusiastic, warm, relaxed, emotionally stable, self-assured, and assertive (Gruber et al., 1995). Assertiveness is defined as behaviors which enable a person to act in his own best interests, to stand up for himself without extra anxiety, to express honest feelings comfortably, and to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others. According to Alberti and Emmons (1978), to act in his own best interests refers to the ability to make life decisions, to trust one`s own judgement, to take initiative, to set goals and to work to achieve them, and to participate socially comfortably. To stand up for oneself includes behaviors such as saying "no", and expressing, defending, or criticizing one`s opinion. To express honest feelings comfortably means the ability to disagree, to show anger, to admit fear and anxiety, to express agreement or support, and to be spontaneous, all without painful anxiety. To exercise personal rights is related to one`s competency to express opinions, and to respond to the violations of one`s own rights or those of others. Finally, to not deny the rights of others is to accomplish the above, without unfair criticism of others, without hurtful behavior toward others, without intimidation, and without manipulation. Systematic observations of assertive behavior have led behavioral scientists to conclude there are several components that contribute to an assertive act. These are defined as eye contact, awareness of physical distance, gestures, facial expressions, paralanguage, timing, listening and content. According to Lloyd (1988), assertive behavior is honest, self-expressive, direct, self-enhancing, not hurtful to others, partially composed of content (feelings, thoughts, etc.), partially composed of nonverbal behavior, appropriate for thje person and the situation, socially responsible, and assertive behavior is a learned set of skills. It is not dominating, humiliating, or degrading to the other person, and involves respect, not deference. It is associated with win/win outcomes. There have been a few studies correlating the ability to have lucid dreams with several personality traits in the waking state. Assertion does not involve acting in a subservient manner. The ability to experience lucidity is to take control of the dream and choose between alternative courses of action. The purpose of this research project is to determine any possible effects of lucid dreams on assertive behavior, with lucid dreamers being more assertive than non-lucid dreamers.


Data were collected from 60 students on the campus of Missouri Western State College, a medium-sized public school in Northwest, Missouri. There was no effort made to select participants from a particular sex or age group.

A paper and pencil survey was distributed to each student that included statements pertaining to lucid dreams and assertive behavior (see Appendix). The statements were based on a Likert-type scale.

The participants were randomly selected from one Psychology 101 class and two Intermediate Psychology classes. Instructions were given to the participants prior to the survey to ensure that they fill in the demographic information, and circle the response most appropriate. It was explained that the demographic information was in no way identifying. Several statements were included in the survey that were taken from a previous survey on assertion (See Appendix). The data were classified into two conditions, lucid dreamers, and non lucid dreamers. These conditions were compared to the dependant variable assertiveness.

A t test was calculated to determine if lucid dreams have an effect on assertiveness. There was no significant difference found, t (58) = .984, p >.05. According to the survey, 28% of non lucid dreamers were assertive, and 29% of lucid dreamers were assertive (see Figure 1).A second t test was calculated to determine if the gender of the participant effected assertiveness scores. There was no significant difference found, t (54) = 1.49, p > .05. According to the survey, 29% of males were assertive, and 27% of females were assertive. Finally, a Chi-Square test was calculated to determine if the gender of the participant effected lucid dream occurrence. A non significant trend was found for women to be less likely to be lucid dreamers. Chi-Square (1) = 3.275, p > .05. Of the males surveyed, 55% experienced lucid dreams, whereas, 44% did not. Of the women surveyed, 78% do not experience lucid dreams, whereas 21% do.

The original hypothesis was that the presence of lucid dreams has an effect on assertiveness, being that lucid dreamers are more likely to be more assertive than non-lucid dreamers. Although past research on lucid dream experience has correlated several personality traits to lucid dream occurrence, such as increased levels of optimism, self-assuredness, positive self-concept, and low anxiety, no statistical significance was found between lucid dreams and assertiveness. A few variables may have contributed to the lack of significance. Three participants did not answer question nine. For this reason, "undecided" had to be chosen for them. In addition, the number of participants that were classified from the survey as lucid dreamers or non-lucid dreamers was an unequal amount. Future research may involve controlling the levels of the independent variable by having a more precise representative sample. A preliminary survey could be administered to distinguish lucid dreamers from non-lucid dreamers. This would ensure an equal sample of each group. There may have been some confusion as to what lucid dreams are. Future research may include a definition of lucid dreams to clear up any confusion for the participants. Finally, if all of the participants would have completed the demographic information, the results including the demographics may have been different. This study has external validity. The results would most likely be similar in different situations. Due to the results being so similar, it can be assumed that there would be little variability in different situational contexts.

Alberti, R.E., Emmons, M.L. (1978). Your perfect right: A guide to assertive behavior. San Luis Obispo: Impact.Blagrove, M., Tucker, M. (1994). Individual differences in the locus of control and the reporting of lucid dreaming. Personality and Individual Differences, 16, 981-984.Gruber, R.E., Steffen, J.J., Vonderhaar, S.P. (1995). Lucid dreaming, waking personality, and cognitive development. Dreaming: Journal of the Association For the Study of Dreams, 5, 1-12.Kahan, T.L., LaBerge, S. (1994). Lucid dreaming as metacognition: Implications for cognitive science. Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal, 3, 246-264.Lloyd, S.R. (1988). Developing positive assertiveness. Los Altos: Crisp.Merei, F. (1994). Social relationships in manifest dream content. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 32, 46lucidity has -98.

Circle One: Sex: M F Age:_______The following are statements concerning personality traits and dreaming. Read each statement carefully, and circle the appropriate response under it. 1. I have had a dream where I realized I was dreaming during the dream.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

2. I have had these dreams more than once.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

3. I cannot control my dreams.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

4. When I dream, it feels similar to waking life.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

5. I am not aware of my feelings and thoughts while I dream.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

6. I can choose alternative courses of action in my dream.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

7. I maintain eye contact during conversation.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

8. I yell when I am angry.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

9. I tend to act passively towards someone who is more knowledgeable than me.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

10. I cannot say "no" without feeling guilty.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

11. I can stand up for myself without feeling scared or anxious.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

12. I can voice my opinion while respecting the rights of others.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

13. I can express my feelings comfortably.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

14. I cannot ask for what I want without feeling guilty.Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

Figure 1

Submitted 5/3/99 11:04:03 AM
Last Edited 5/3/99 1:29:53 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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