Adult recollections of earliest childhood dreams: A cross-cultural study



In two studies, Caucasian and Asian college students recalled their earliest memory of a dream, and they provided information about behaviours and beliefs associated with dreaming. Consistent with previous research on childhood amnesia, participants rarely recounted dreams that occurred before age 3. In Study 1, the mean age of the earliest dream memory was 14 months earlier for Caucasians than for Asians. In Study 2, more Asians than Caucasians were unable to remember a childhood dream. Dream-related behaviours and beliefs also differed markedly across cultures. Compared to Asians, Caucasians reported talking more frequently with parents about their dreams in childhood, receiving stronger parental encouragement to share dreams, and feeling more comfortable doing so. Caucasians also reported sharing their dreams with others more frequently in adulthood and they assigned greater value to their dreams. Most Caucasians but few Asians consented to the researchers' request to send parents a questionnaire concerning the participant's childhood dreams. The results support the social interaction explanation for autobiographical memory development, in which parent–child conversations about the personal past contribute to memory accessibility.

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Taylor & Francis

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