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Can a piece of music with a positive emotional elicitation improve dream content and the phenomenological experience?

Durham, Charlotte May


Charlotte May Durham


Rachel J. Anderson


Dreams can be defined as a series of thoughts, ideas and sensations that occur involuntarily within our minds during the stages of sleep. As there is a current lack of research connecting music and its effects on dreams, this thesis will investigate if music can have a positive effect on dreaming. Longer lasting effects if music can positively alter our dreams, is a reduction in nightmares and stressful dreaming. Many of us dream or experience dreaming on a nightly basis whether it be wild, vivid experiences or just the recall of a sensation. First, five pieces of music across five different genres were assessed (using the BRECVEMA model of music psychology), and then presented to a group of participants to see how emotions were perceived across the five selected genres/pieces (scores attained from the Emotion Worksheets). It was found that the ‘Musical Theatre’ piece of music had the highest level of positive emotional elicitation within participants.

Then, various aspects of dreaming including dream contents and various experiences of dreaming (PANAS, vividness, coherence, recall and sensory information) were examined for two weeks, one week where the participants listened to the selected piece of music and one where participants listened to no music. Participants were given a dream journal to complete throughout the two weeks which included; pre-sleep questionnaire, a space to record dreams and a post-sleep questionnaire. It was found that when the participants were listening to music, they experienced significantly more positive contents of their dreams, whereas dreaming experiences were not altered in accordance with the music. Although, further research within this field is needed to fully assess whether all music as a whole can alter our emotions strong enough to change our dream content and our phenomenological experience. Other pieces of music within other genres and the same genre could be deemed more powerful and have more of a lasting effect.


Durham, C. M. (2019). Can a piece of music with a positive emotional elicitation improve dream content and the phenomenological experience?. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 28, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Psychology
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2019


Thesis (5.7 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019 Durham, Charlotte May. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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