Dreaming 'de re' and 'de se': Experimental evidence für the Oneiric Reference Constraint


  • Hazel Pearson
  • Jeruen Dery


We present findings from three experiments investigating the interpretation of pronouns in dream reports and belief reports. Percus and Sauerland (2003a) discuss reports of dreams where the dreamer is someone other than who she actually is, and investigate the range of possible interpretations of pronouns in this environment. They claim that when two pronouns are embedded, a reading where the higher pronoun refers to the subject of dream (de re) and the lower one to the ‘dream-self’ (de se) is excluded. This observation motivates a theory that derives de se interpretations via pronoun movement. The core judgment behind this idea is delicate, however, and Anand (2006) found that some of his informants were able to detect the reading in question. Moreover, he claimed that the de re + de se reading is available when the embedding verb is believe. We bring experimental evidence to bear on these issues in the form of a picture choice task. Our data support Percus and Sauerland’s claim that the de re + de se reading is unavailable in dream reports, suggesting that the empirical basis of their theory of de se is sound. In addition, we confirm Anand’s claim that this reading is available in belief reports.


How to Cite

Pearson, H., & Dery, J. (2019). Dreaming ’de re’ and ’de se’: Experimental evidence für the Oneiric Reference Constraint. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 18, 322–340. Retrieved from https://ojs.ub.uni-konstanz.de/sub/index.php/sub/article/view/320