What is it about?

The ‘Dark Tetrad’ personality traits are narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and sadism. People who score highly in these traits are more likely to engage in acts of violence, frequent short-term sexual activity, and see themselves as being more important than other people. This study showed that people who possess Dark Tetrad traits dream more frequently of fighting, sex, and self-importance. This suggests that parts of someone’s personality in the waking life can be represented in their dreams. Although this is a significant finding, our effects were relatively small, meaning there are likely other unknown factors at play which also explain the content of dreams.

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Why is it important?

There is a lot of mystery around dreams, and a number of different theories which attempt to explain them. This study is important because it adds support to the idea that features from waking life continue into dreams. Understanding more about potential meaning of dreams could be a useful tool in understanding oneself, particularly with the help of an appropriately trained psychotherapist.


The world of dreams is a fascinating land filled with mystery and treasure. Our study supports several others showing that aspects of ourselves can be revealed to us in our dreams. I find this really interesting, and hope it can inspire others to consider the relationship of their dreams to their waking life.

Tom Jenkins
University of Bath

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: You are what you dream: The dark tetrad and dream content., Dreaming, August 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/drm0000252.
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