By Bill Murphy, LDE Science Correspondent © 2013
At the 21st Annual International Conference of the International Association for the Study (ASD) of Dreams, former ASD officer Robert J. Hoss, MS, presented an analysis of colors reported in dreams. His 2004 presentation was part of a much larger study of dream reports that Hoss continued through 2010. His research has been published in his book Dream Language: Self-Understanding through Imagery and Color and excerpts can be found in websites including http://dreamgate.com/dream/hoss/ index.htm
To derive an association of colors reported in dream journals with emotions that the subjects stated they felt, Hoss began by expanding on a dream color chart derived from color psychology literature, specifically the Color Test by Dr. Max Luscher that was augmented by Carl Jung.
The premise of using ‘color psychology’ that would normally be useful to gauge the emotional response subjects report to colors while awake, is interesting as it may be helpful in interpreting the symbolism of colors in dreams since the hue of objects visualized in a dream state is optional for the dreamer.
Additional research by in a sleep lab by Robert Van de Castle, Ph.D. reveals that when subjects were awoken from the REM state, distinct color was reported in 70% of the cases and vague color in another 13%. It has been suggested most people perceive dreams as colorless due to limitations of recall. Spontaneous non-laboratory dream reports collected by Van de Castle (normal daily dream recall) indicate that only about 25% of dreamers recall full or partial color. Stephen LaBerge writes in his book Lucid Dreaming, that color recall may have to do with the nature of our consciousness in dreams, and provides the example of the vivid colors usually associated with lucid dreams.