In a recent study (DeCicco, Zanasi, Musolino & Wright, 2009) we investigated the differences in sexual imagery between a Canadian sample and an Italian sample of participants. There were differences between the two groups for female imagery in target (who they were having sex with), emotions, and for sex categories. Interestingly, there were no significant differences between the Canadian males and the Italian males. In a closer look with a second study, the differences became smaller and the groups only differed in one category (number of body parts in the dreams for male dreamers). This is an important category since previous research has found that the number of body parts is correlated with discovery of sex, rather than other waking day issues (King, Decicco & Humphreys, 2007).
What was surprising to us however, was that the dreams with sexual content did not differ as much as expected. Given cultural differences, we would expect the samples to differ across each other but also, by gender. Though we did have significant findings, they were not as large as expected.
Another study examined the "meaning" of sex dreams with a Canadian sample and found two basic factors: sex and relationships. It would be interesting to extend this study to an Italian sample to see possible differences in meaning for sex imagery. Since this study has not yet been conducted, it is an important next step. In fact, dreams across cultures are indeed scarce and should be considered in future research projects.