This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 03 table of contents.


Certain types of dreams are found in all human cultures. Compare the following lists of dream themes, one from college students in the United States, the other from people on the Solomon Islands (located in the South Pacific, east of New Guinea). They are very similar.

What are dream themes common to college students and Solomon Islanders of the 1930s?


Dreams by college students

(Most to least frequent)

Dreams by Solomon Islanders

(Most to least frequent)



Being attacked or pursued

Death and spirits of the dead


Incidents in everyday life

Trying again and again to do something

Incidents with sexual implications

Schools, teachers, studying

Food and eating

Sexual experiences

Fighting, beating, or being beaten

Arriving late for some event

Incidents involving animals

Eating delicious food

Being frozen with fright

Being frozen with fright

Going on a journey

Dead people as though alive

Climbing a hill

Flying or soaring through air


Wild violent beasts

Trying to move but being fixed

Being unable to move

Physical disabilities



(From Tart, 1973)

(From Lincoln, 1935/1970)

Although these lists were collected from different populations in different cultures, 40 years apart, they contain many of the same themes. Of course, because the lists come from two different studies, the categories are slightly different. For example, in the Solomon Islander list the common theme of being attacked or pursued might be categorized as fighting or being frozen with fright. Nevertheless, you can see that people on opposite ends of the earth have similar dreams about food, falling, sex, dead people coming alive, being unable to move, and animals.

Write to Dr. Dewey at

Don't see what you need? Psych Web has over 1,000 pages, so it may be elsewhere on the site. Do a site-specific Google search using the box below.

Custom Search

Copyright © 2007-2011 Russ Dewey