If your partner has a dream of you cheating, expect to face repercussions for your scandalous dream-behavior later. According to new peer-reviewed research, dreams involving ones significant other can predict subsequent relational behavior.
“This study is the first to systematically identify such patterns of behavior,” Dylan F. Selterman of the University of Maryland and his colleagues wrote in the study, which was published online May 6 in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“These findings also support the idea that dreams are an important component of human social life, the scientific examination of which may provide unique insight into close relationship processes,” they added.
The researchers collected 842 dream diaries from 61 undergraduate students at Stony Brook University over a two week period. These students also reported their daily activity with their partners, including measures of intimacy and conflict.
Selterman and his colleagues found that participants who reported greater jealousy in a dream of their partners tended to reported more conflict with their partners on the day following the dream. Similarly, participants who experienced infidelity in their dream tended to report less intimacy on following days and those who experienced conflict in their dream tended to report greater conflict on following days.
Dreams involving sex were associated with more intimacy on following days, but only for those who reported being highly committed to their partners. For those who reported a low level of commitment, dreams involving sex were associated with less intimacy on following days.
The findings held even after the researchers took factors such as the participants’ previous day’s activity, trait attachment styles, and relationship quality into account.
Selterman and his colleagues suggested dreams could trigger internal thought processes that later unconsciously manifest themselves in behaviors, a psychological phenomenon known as priming.
“For example, as participants recalled dreams with higher amounts of jealousy, this evoked a behavioral response involving conflict with their relationship partners,” they explained.
The study was co-authored by Adela I. Apetroaia of the University of Reading, Suzanne Riela of New York University, and Arthur Aron of SUNY at Stony Brook.