Are You Dreaming? A Phenomenological Study on Understanding Lucid Dreams as a Tool for Introspection in Virtual Reality

CHI ’18 Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Montreal QC, Canada — April 21 – 26, 2018

Kitson, A., Schiphorst, T., & Riecke, B. E. (2018). Are You Dreaming? A Phenomenological Study on Understanding Lucid Dreams As a Tool for Introspection in Virtual Reality. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems  (pp. 343:1–343:12). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi: 10.1145/3173574.3173917

Virtual reality (VR) is resurging in popularity with the advancement of low-cost hardware and more realistic graphics. How might this technology help others? That is, to increase mental well-being? The ultimate VR might look like lucid dreaming, the phenomenon of knowing one is dreaming while in the dream. Lucid dreaming can be used as an introspective tool and, ultimately, increase mental well-being. What these introspective experiences are like for lucid dreamers might be key in determining specific design guidelines for future creation of a technological tool used for helping people examine their own thoughts and emotions. This study describes nine active and proficient lucid dreamers’ representations of their introspective experiences gained through phenomenological interviews. Four major themes emerged: sensations and feelings, actions and practices, influences on experience, and meaning making. This knowledge can help design a VR system that is grounded in genuine experience and preserving the human condition.

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