Are people who dream about murder more likely to kill someone in real life?

By Seriously Science | December 2, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/izarbeltza

Photo: flickr/izarbeltza

Well… not exactly. But according to this study, people who dream of killing someone tend to be more aggressive during their waking life. The scientists polled student samples on their dream contents and then tested their personality traits. They found that 20-35% of participants reported having dreamed of murdering someone at least once (perhaps not surprisingly, more of these were men), and these people were more likely to have more aggressive personalities in their waking life.  Paging Dr. Jung…

Are dreams of killing someone related to waking-life aggression?

“Aggressive interactions are common in dreams, even aggression resulting in the death of a dream character. In different student samples, approximately 20% to 35% of the participants reported having dreamed of killing someone at least once in their lives. In nightmare sufferers, this type of dream was related to elevated waking-life aggression. The present study confirmed this relationship in an unselected student sample (N = 439). The present results indicate that continuity between waking and dreaming can take different forms, that is, the waking emotion is not reflected in a direct way in the dreams but in an exaggerated way. Further studies should look at the content of killing dreams as to whether it is self-defense, an accident, or cold-blooded murder. One might argue that the third category is most strongly associated with waking-life aggressiveness. From a methodological viewpoint, it would be desirable to back up the present findings with dream diary studies.”

Related content:
Want to control your dreams? Shock your brain to induce lucid dreaming!
NCBI ROFL: Murder: an evolutionary adaptation?
NCBI ROFL: What do Republicans dream about? (Hint: it’s not sex.)


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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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