Monday, August 23, 2004
Dreaming in Color
Eric Schwitzgebel has, along with Changbing Huang, a new paper on color sensation in dreams. I've discussed before Schwitzgebel's treatment of the surprising sociological data, that in the 1940s and '50s, most experts and laypersons in America believed that dreaming was an exclusively black-and-white phenomenon. Today, of course, most people report dreaming in color, as, apparently, did people before the mid-twentieth century. Schwitzgebel's explanation is that our reports of dreams track our experiences of film media -- that in the '40s and '50s, people took their dreams to be in black-and-white because they generalized their experiences of black-and-white films to their experiences of their dreams. (That's why I'm so interested in this theory -- it fits very well into my view, according to which to experience a dream *is* to experience a fiction.) The new paper, Do We Dream in Color? Cultural Variations and Skepticism, marshals new data for Schwitzgebel's view that color reports in dreams tracks exposure to black-and-white media. He considers survey results from students in various regions of China, who have had various levels of exposure to black-and-white and color film at various points in their lives. I have not looked thoroughly at the data itself, but Schwitzgebel takes it to corroborate his theory. I take this also to count in favor of my theory. Thanks to Brian's papers blog for the link.