This thesis investigates the hypothesis that
convergent and divergent thinking reflect different
defensive preferences - convergers inclining towards
repression, divergers to intellectual modes of defence.
To test this claim, individuals' reactions to
their own dreams - a rich source of threatening material,
according to psychoanalytic theory - were investigated.
Utilising all-night electrophysiological monitoring of
sleep, recall following awakenings from REM (dream)
sleep was contrasted for convergent and divergent groups.
The convergers did prove poorer at recalling dream
content, but only from those awakenings that, it had been
postulated, might elicit threatening material. Convergers'
recall of non-threatening material ('control' awakenings)
actually proved slightly better than for their divergent
counterparts. These findings were taken to support the
view that convergers more typically resort to repressive
Comparing REM sleep between the two groups on
undisturbed nights, divergers were found to spend more
time nightly in this stage of sleep than convergers. In
addition, the REM sleep of divergers was characterised by
a much lower density of eye movements. A closer analysis
revealed that divergers spent much more time in
substantial episodes of REM sleep without eye movements.
This finding was taken to reflect a divergent preference
for intellectual modes of defence, having previously
speculated that, during these episodes without eye
movements, secondary revision of threatening dream
experience may occur. The lower density of eye
movements discharged by divergers was also attributable,
in part, to a tendency for convergers to spend more time
in episodes of sustained eye movement activity. Moreover,
convergers exhibited a longer first period of REM sleep
than divergers (against the overall trend) and a shorter
REM sleep latency - all of which suggest a greater need
for REM sleep and, arguably, its psychological concomitant,
dreaming. This pattern was seen as support for
psychological compensation, convergers making up for less
imaginative day-time experience with more immediate and
more intense dreaming.