Emotional selection

Emotional selection

Emotional Selection is a psychological theory of dreaming developed by [http://www.couttsdesigninc.com/Biography.html Richard Coutts] and published in the April 2008 issue of [http://www.ammonsscientific.com/ Psychological Reports] . The theory describes a process that executes a set of dreams during non-REM sleep with social content that is tentatively accommodated by mental schemas. Because schemas coexist as a network, accommodations can introduce accidental, maladaptive conflicts and therefore are ideally tested before integration. Consequently, during subsequent REM sleep a second set of dreams is executed in the form of test scenarios. If accommodations performed during prior non-REM dreams alleviate anxiety, frustration, sadness, or in other ways appear emotionally adaptive during REM dream tests, they would be selected for retention. Those accommodations that compare negatively to existing, unchanged schemas would be abandoned or further modified and tested.

Jean Piaget described schemas as being riddled with conflict, which is why Coutts asserts that they are modified and tested with dreams during sleep. From his 2008 paper, "People strive for independence, yet find solace in the company of others; they place a high priority on our personal safety, yet quickly jeopardize it to help those in need; they are sexually attracted to many people, yet seek loving, monogamous relationships. Schemas help strike the balances necessary for navigating the complex, often contradictory landscape that comprises life."

Schemas are essential for adapting a person to a social environment. Consequently, emotional selection theory agrees with evolutionary forces by describing a role for dreams as adaptively enhancing mental schemas, thereby increasing a person’s ability to meet social needs during wakefulness.


# [http://www.emotionalselection.com/ Coutts, R (2008). Dreams as modifiers and tests of mental schemas: an emotional selection hypothesis. Psychological Reports, 102, 561-574.]

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