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PSYA4 - Anomalistic Psychology

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Joshua Clark

on 6 November 2014

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Transcript of PSYA4 - Anomalistic Psychology

Extra Sensory Perception - Ganzfeld
Extra Sensory Perception - Psychokinesis
J.B. Rhine was one of the first to investigate psychokinesis, in controlled laboratory conditions
He asked participants to roll specific numbers on a standard, six-sided dice
There were, however many criticisms of dice-throwing studies, such as skilled dice throwers, and the fact that these studies were difficult to replicate
A dice-throwing machine was created, to remove the threat of skilled dice throwers

Coincidence
Where two or more events happen to occur at the same time or within a noticeable time frame
Probability Judgements
Those with an intuitive thinking style, that is, someone who lacks critical thinking and reasoning, are much more likely to believe in the paranormal, compared to those with an analytical thinking style.

Confirmation bias - Believers in the paranormal tend to ignore evidence that refutes their beliefs and over-emphasises evidence that confirms them. For example, ignoring every losing lottery ticket they have ever bought, and focusing on one winning ticket.

Superstition
Superstitions are irrational beliefs that certain objects, actions or circumstances will result in a particular outcome, for example wearing a lucky jumper will cause the wearer's favourite football team to win their match
Magical Thinking
Magical thinking is defined as believing that one event happens as a result of another without a plausible link of causation i.e. due to paranormal forces
Personality Factors
Various personality factors have been associated with anomalous experience. Gianotti et al. found a correlation between creative personality traits, and beliefs in the paranormal

Neuroticism, a personality trait which is characterised by anxious, moody behaviour and emotional insability, is associated with belief in the paranormal.

A sensation seeking personality has also been linked to paranormal beliefs and experiences
Psychic Mediumship
Psychic mediumship involves a medium becoming a facilitator of communication between the living and the spiritual world.

Research has been conducted into psychic mediumship by Wiseman et al. In this study, five mediums were recruited to give 'readings' to five sitters. Wiseman found that the statements which were rated most accurately by the sitters were the most vague, and the statements which were rated the least accurate were the most specific.

Skeptics argue that similar results can be achieved by cold reading (e.g. Barnum statement), by using obvious characteristics to influence the 'reading' - such as age, gender or body language. Barnum statements are statements which sound specific, but in actual fact are very general and usually apply to most people. An example of a Barnum statement is
At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.

Time For The End of Unit Test!!!
PSYA4 - Anomalistic Psychology
Joshua Clark
Method
1) Receiver relaxes, by listening to white noise. Halved table tennis balls are placed over eyes, and the room is lit up by a red light - These combine to deprive the senses of the receiver
2) Sender is based in another room. They are given a choice of four sealed packets. They select a packet, and try to "send" the image they have in front of them, to the receiver, through mental intention
3) After the session, the receiver is given the choice of four images, and is asked to rate each one.


Evaluation
Sensory Leakage - In Ganzfeld studies, this was dealt with by sound-proofing the rooms, and using random image selectors.

Researcher Bias - this was dealt with through the use of "double-blind" tests - neither the receiver nor the researcher knew which image was being sent, through mental intention

Skepticism - the receiver may be a skeptic, and therefore deliberately try not to receive anything from the sender
Ganzfeld Studies - Method and Evaluation
Honorton & Ferrari - Conducted a meta-analysis, using around two million trials. Overall, they found a statistically significant effect. They concluded that ESP ability to identify forced-choice targets exists, at a significant level.

Various researchers were critical of the Ganzfeld method, and so more rigorous controls were brought into place - namely the Autoganzfeld technique, which automated the randomisation of images.
Psychokinesis: "Moving Objects With Mental Intention"
Meta-Analysis
Ferrari et al. conducted a meta-analysis of dice-throwing studies (including those of J.B. Rhine) and found a small but significant result, stating that the results equate to odds against chance of over a billion to one!
Four factors which aim to explain coincidences:
Hidden Cause
Where something triggers you to think about something, without you realising
Multiple End Points
We are just as impressed with close matches as we are with exact matches. E.g. Meeting someone whose birthday is the day before yours
The Law Of Truly Large Numbers
States that with a sample size large enough, any outrageous thing is likely to happen.
Psychological Factors
Research has shown that coincidences that we are personally involved in are much more surprising and impressive than those not involving ourselves.
Probability Judgement Studies
Genovese
found that belief in the paranormal correlated with intuitive thinking styles, suggesting that cognitive factors are linked to paranormal beliefs.
Skinner researched superstitious behaviour in pigeons, who aimed to show how superstitions can be learnt, like behaviours. He gave pigeons food pellets at random times, and found that the pigeons started carrying out certain behaviours (such as head bobbing), with the belief that these behaviours caused the food pellets to be released.
Fluke et al. found, through the use of questionnaires, three reasons behind beliefs in superstition.

These were:
To gain control over uncertainties
To decrease feelings of helplessness
Because it is easier to rely on superstitions than it is to rely on coping strategies
Irwin found that children who grew up with alcoholic parents had a stronger belief in magical thinking when they were older, suggesting magical thinking can be used as a coping mechanism
Psychic Healing
There are many instances of psychic healing being successful, including therapeutic touch.

Keller and Bzdek looked at the effect of therapeutic touch on tension headaches. They had 60 participants stop taking their medication for 4 hours, and were randomly assigned to either the therapeutic touch group, or the control group. They found that in the therapeutic touch group, 90% of participants reported lower levels of pain and a very high level of significance.
Near death / Out of body experience
Ring - carried out structured interviews with over 100 of those who had been near death, and noted similarities:
Feelings of deep peace
Sense of separation from body
Entering darkness
Seeing a light
Entering a beautiful garden

Blanke et al. investigated out of body experiences. He suggested that they could be explained as a result of the Angular Gyrus (part of the brain) misfiring under stress. To test this, he stimulated this part of the brain in patients, and found that stronger stimulation caused the patient to see their own body from a height, or from across a room.

As this type of research relies on subjective reports, they may be distorted and lack empirical evidence.
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