Nightmare frequency is related to a propensity for mirror behaviors

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (4):1181-1188 (2013)

Don Kuiken
University of Alberta
We previously reported that college students who indicated engaging in frequent dream-enacting behaviors also scored high on a new measure of mirror behaviors, which is the propensity to imitate another person’s emotions or actions. Since dream-enacting behaviors are frequently the culmination of nightmares, one explanation for the observed relationship is that individuals who frequently display mirror behaviors are also prone to nightmares. We used the Mirror Behavior Questionnaire and self-reported frequencies of nightmares to assess this possibility.A sample of 480 students, consisting of 188 males and 292 females enrolled in a first-year university psychology course, participated for course credit. They completed a battery of questionnaires that included the 16-item MBQ, plus an item about nightmare frequency in the past 30 days. NMF scores were split to create low, medium, and high NMF groups.MBQ total scores were significantly higher for female than for male subjects, but an interaction revealed that this was true only for Hi-NMF subjects. MBQ Factor 4, Motor Skill Imitation, paralleled this global interaction for females, whereas MBQ Factor 3, Sleepiness/Anger Contagion, was elevated only for Hi-NMF males. Item analyses indicated that Hi- and Med-NMF females scored higher than Lo-NMF females on the 3 items of Factor 4 that reflect voluntary imitation , as well as on 2 other items that reflect involuntary imitation . Although Hi- and Lo-NMF males differed most clearly on the sleepiness item of Factor 3, all 3 items on this factor are plausibly associated with perception of and response to social threat.Results provide evidence that among females nightmares are associated with voluntary and involuntary mirror behaviors during wakefulness, while among males nightmares are associated with threat-related mirror behaviors during wakefulness. They thus support the possibility that the association between mirror behaviors and dream-enacting behaviors is due to a common mirror neuron mechanism that underlies mirror behaviors and nightmares and that involves motor, rather than emotional, resonance. These results have implications for understanding the comorbidity of nightmares and other pathological symptoms such as imitative suicidal behaviors, the influence of observational learning on dissociative symptomatology, and the predominance of threat and aggression in the dream enacting behaviors of REM sleep behavior disorder
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2013.08.012
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,355
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Laplacean Formal Semantics for Single-Case Propensities.Ronald N. Giere - 1976 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 5 (3):321 - 353.
Varieties of Propensity.Donald Gillies - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (4):807-835.
A Defense of Propensity Interpretations of Fitness.Robert C. Richardson & Richard M. Burian - 1992 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:349 - 362.


Added to PP index

Total views
17 ( #534,060 of 2,286,105 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #571,926 of 2,286,105 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature