Predicting the Future: The Characteristics and Possible Psychological Explanations of Precognitive Dreaming
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A recent survey established that one in four Americans believe in the ability to predict the future; however there is currently very little research investigating the phenomenon of precognition. The present study examined the occurrence of precognition in dreams, analysing precognitive and non-precognitive dreams submitted by 46 participants (precognitive believers and sceptics) to the Perrott-Warwick Dream Registry at the University of Edinburgh. Both dream types were compared on ratings of vividness, emotional intensity, emotional valence, and event character. Precognitive and non-precognitive dreams were only found to differ significantly in vividness ratings, and a significant association was also found between dream type and event character. The results of a within-subjects analysis suggested that vividness may be a characteristic of both precognitive and non-precognitive dreams for individuals with a particularly strong belief in precognition. The effect of dream recall frequency and memory bias on precognitive attribution were also examined. Dream recall frequency was not found to differ significantly between precognitive believers and non-believers. Independent judges were recruited to compare pre-event precognitive dream reports and the matching retrospective post-event dream reports with a description of the event, to assess any influence the details of the event may have had on participants’ memory of the dream. However agreement between the judges on the similarities between precognitive dreams and their matching events was very low, and therefore unsuitable for analysis. Limitations of the experiment are discussed and future research exploring personality traits of precognitive believers is suggested.