Professor Listing


Donald Kuiken, PhD




About Me

Don Kuiken is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Iowa and his PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and book chapters in the areas of dreaming, psychological aesthetics, and phenomenological psychology. His most recent research is concerned with the self-perceptual and aesthetic aftereffects of impactful dreams and memorable literary reading. Also, he has been Acting Chair of the Department and a member of various Departmental committees (including its Tenure, Undergraduate Curriculum, and Graduate Curriculum Committees), a member of a number of Faculty committees (including Executive Council and the Committee on Academic Standing), and a representative on several University committees (including General Faculties Council).


Dreams Research. In a series of publications (Kuiken & Sikora, 1993; Busink & Kuiken, 1996; Kuiken, Lee, Eng, et al., 2006, Lee & Kuiken, 2013), we identified a dream type (existential dreaming) that is comparable to but qualitatively distinct from nightmares. These dreams, marked by deep sadness, become prominent during bereavement (Kuiken, Lee, & Prinsen, 2016). This newly articulated dream type was recognized in a comprehensive review of parasomnias (Nielsen & Zadra, 2000), in a recent encyclopedia of sleep and dreams (McNamara & Barrett, 2012), and in a recently proposed revision to the DSM5 criteria for nightmares and nightmare disorders (Kuiken, 2015). Current Efforts: We are now attempting to replicate evidence (Kuiken, Porthukaran, Albrecht, Douglas, & Cook, 2018) that the aftereffects of existential dreams include the enriched metaphor comprehension that may mediate self-perceptual depth, inexpressivle realizations, and sublime feeling.

Literary Reading Research. In a series of publications (Kuiken, Miall, & Sikora, 2004; Kuiken, Phillips, Gregus, et al., 2004; Sikora, Kuiken, & Miall, 2010; Sikora, Kuiken, & Miall, 2011), we identified a form of literary reading (expressive enactment) that involves reader identification with characters, repeated variation of affective themes, and progressive transformation of feelings and self-perception. Most recently (Kuiken & Douglas, 2017), we have provided the psychometric means for differentiating explication-centered expressive enactment from inference-centered integrative comprehension; we have also provided evidence that expressive enactment mediates the aesthetic aftereffects of deeply engaged reading and that integrative comprehension mediates the explanatory aftereffects of deeply engaged reading (Kuiken & Douglas, 2017). Current Efforts: We are now attempting to replicate evidence (Kuiken & Douglas, in press) that the aftereffects of expressive enactment include the enriched metaphor comprehension that may mediate self-perceptual depth, inexpressivle realizations, and sublime feeling.

Phenomenological Methods. To enable identification and description of the subtleties of dream experience and aesthetic experience, we have developed a form of empirical phenomenology that is rigorous and yet faithful to the complexity of peoples’ open-ended descriptions of their experience (cf. Kuiken, Schopflocher, & Wild, 1989; Kuiken, Wild, & Schopflocher, 1992; Kuiken & Miall, 2001). These procedures are phenomenological in that they: (a) presume that experience as immediately ‘given’ to the experiencing individual is a proper subject matter for psychological studies; (b) acknowledge that experience is as richly complex as the language required to express it, and (c) provide explicative descriptions of experience rather than causal explanations. Unlike other ‘qualitative’ research that shares these assumptions and objectives, our procedures take advantage of numerical classificatory methods, specifically cluster analysis. This integration of ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative’ procedures balances rigor with sensitivity and remains faithful to the conception of empirical phenomenological methods set out set out by Husserl and Merleau-Ponty.