Color TV Might Be the Reason You Dream the Way You Do

Ever wake up from a vivid dream and wonder, “Where did that come from?” Dreams are unpredictable, but they are influenced by thoughts, images, and various other ideas that fly through our fast-moving brains on a daily basis.

There have been countless songs written, and movies made, about dreaming, perhaps none more impactful than The Wizard of Oz. Sure, we’ve all spoken to the occasional scarecrow or buddied up to a kindhearted lion in our dreams, but the biggest way the film has influenced your dreaming is it’s pioneering of color television.

Young couple watching TV at home at night

Technically the use of color in movies had begun prior to the release of The Wizard of Oz, but the film is widely accepted as a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind picture, with an influence that will extend even beyond the generations who can remember when it first came out. And one of the biggest reasons that the movie made such an impact is because color television was responsible for shifting the way most of the population dreams.

In 2008, Eva Murzyn studied the differences in the dreams of those who grew up watching color television in comparison to those who grew up watching everything in black and white. The study revealed less than 5% of participants under 25, and less than 10% of those over 55 who grew up with color television, reported monochromatic dreams. However, close to 25% of those over 55 who reported growing up without color television said they dream in black and white.

Furthermore, research showed that over 70% of people responding to a questionnaire in the 1940s reported dreaming in black and white. That number was flipped when the study was duplicated in 2001, as fewer than 20% of participants reported dreaming in black and white.

The old saying “correlation doesn’t equal causation” must be used as a disclaimer, particularly when discussing something like dream research, which yields evidence that is far from concrete. Still, the findings point to a relationship between television and dreaming, and the drastic jump suggests that watching color television can actually lead to some level of increased likelihood of dreaming in color.


Research methods have significantly improved since the advent of color television, while the amount of people watching black and white television has naturally diminished, so expanding research on this subject is challenging. However, studies of this nature help contribute to the ever-expanding knowledge of dreams.

So if you ask a millennial what movie has most influenced the way they view dreams, they’ll probably say Inception, or perhaps older millenials will volunteer The Matrix trilogy. You can then kindly inform them that Dorothy and the Wonderful Wizard are probably the better bet.


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