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Perspectives of college students dreams and daydreams were reported and compared. Proportions of students reporting each of four perspectives were found to be similar for dreams and daydreams. However, overall frequencies of dream perspectives were somewhat different that those found by others. Possible reasons for these differences were posited.

A number of studies have focused on the point of view or "perspective" a person typically adopts when representing themselves in memory, or during altered states of consciousness (e.g. Nigro & Neisser, 1983; Blackmore, 1987; Foulkes & Kerr, 1994). The first-person perspective is viewing the scenario through one's own eyes; the third-person perspective is seeing the scenario as an outsider - viewing one's entire body, like on TV. In addition, researchers have described "mixed" perspectives where both first and third person perspectives are experienced by the same individual.

Soper, Milford and Rosenthal, (1994) reported that the most common perspective in dreaming was "exclusively first person", followed by "mainly first but some third", and "mainly third but some first". "Exclusively third person" dreams were relatively rare. The present study is an attempt to determine: 1) if similar proportions of respondents report exclusively first-person, mixed, and exclusively third-person daydream perspectives; and 2) if there is continuity between the perspective an individual adopts while daydreaming and dreaming.



A total of 199 students (59 males and 140 females) from a small southern university participated in the study. Females comprised 70% of the sample, males 30%. The mean age of the volunteers was 21.2, SD=6.4 years. Ages were not significantly different between the sexes (t197=1.64, p [is greater than] .05).


The instrument consisted of a cover sheet of instructions, a survey containing demographic questions, and items concerning daydream and dream perspective.


The number and proportion of students reporting each of the four perspectives in daydreaming and dreaming are presented in Table 1. Proportions have been converted to percentages for clarity.

Table 1 Percentage of Respondents Reporting Each Daydream and Dream Perspective and z Test Statistics
                                    Daydream       Dream        z

Exclusively First-person         45.7% (n=91)   37.2% (n=74)    1.57
Mainly First-person some third   29.1% (n=58)   38.2% (n=76)   -1.58
Mainly Third-person some first   18.1% (n=36)   18.1% (n=36)    0.00
Exclusively Third-person          7.0% (n=14)    6.5% (n=13)    0.07

The number of students who reported that they daydreamed "exclusively in first-person" were compared to the number who reported they dreamed "exclusively in first-person" with a test of the significance of difference between two proportions. Each of the remaining daydream perspectives was compared to its corresponding dream perspective in three additional tests. The significance level for all tests was set at .05.

None of the observed differences between proportions proved significant. However, unlike the data reported by Soper et. al, (1994) the most common dream perspective in the current study was "mainly first-person but some third" over "exclusively first person," but only by a small margin. Yet, the daydream perspectives were in the same order of frequency as Soper, et al. (1994) found.

To address the continuity hypothesis a Contingency Coefficient was computed between respondents reports of their daydream and dream perspectives. The contingency, coefficient was C=.38, the associated X- with 9df=33.22, p [is less than] .001 indicated that daydream and dream perspective were significantly related.


The fact that the "mainly first-person but some third" dream perspective was slightly more common than in previous studies is perplexing. It may be due to sampling differences, or regional or personality differences. Regardless, it does not detract from the main findings of the study.

The proportions of students reporting each perspective in their daydreams was similar to the proportions of students reporting that perspective in their dreams. In addition, 47% of students reported that the perspective in which they daydreamed was also the one in which they dreamed. This suggests a continuity of self-perspectives across different levels of consciousness for some college students.


Blackmore, S. (1987). Where am I? Perspectives in imagery and out-of-body experience. Journal of Mental Imagery, 11(2), 53-66.

Foulkes, D. & Kerr, N.H. (1994). Point of view in nocturnal dreaming. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 78, 690.

Nigro G. & Neisser, U. (1983). Point of view in personal memories. Cognitive Psychology, 15, 467-482.

Soper, B., Milford G.E. and Rosenthal, G.T. (1994). Dream perspective: A research note. Journal of Mental Imagery, 18(3 & 4), 181-182.

BARLOW SOPER Louisiana Tech University
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Publication:College Student Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 1999

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