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JSPR Abstracts 2009

January 2009

Implicit Intuition: How Heart Rate Can Contribute to Prediction of Future Events

by Patrizio E. Tressoldi, Massimiliano Martinelli, Elisa Zaccaria and Stefano Massaccesi

Using a well-established methodological paradigm to investigate the presentiment phenomenon and its extension to pre-alerting and guessing tasks, we planned to explore in this study whether participant heart rate signals could be used to predict whether randomly selected future stimuli would be pleasant or unpleasant. After evidence was found in Experiment 1 of different anticipatory signals before the perception of pleasant and unpleasant sounds, we further explored the effect by asking participants to block incoming unpleasant sounds. The prediction was tested in Experiment 2 using an explicit intuitive condition in which participants were informed when their physiological response suggested that the next sound would be unpleasant, and they were able to skip it by pressing the computer mouse. We also included an implicit condition in which incoming unpleasant sounds were automatically skipped, based on physiological response. Experiment 3 used only the implicit intuitive condition. In the implicit intuitive condition, we found an r = 0.40 (Expt. 2) and an rs = 0.69 (Expt.3) between the scores on the Tellegen Absorption Scale and the difference between blocked pleasant and unpleasant sounds. The total variance explained by Absorption and a measure of Expected Efficacy was R ²corr = 0.105 (Expt.2) and 0.57 (Expt.3). The specific role of absorption in facilitating implicit intuition was confirmed by the low correlation, r = –0.22, with the difference between the blocked pleasant and unpleasant sounds in the explicit condition (Expt.2). When participants were divided into high and low scorers on absorption, high absorbers obtained a statistically significant difference in the means of blocked pleasant and unpleasant sounds (Expt.2 and Expt.3), but only in the implicit condition. Overall, these results seem to suggest the possibility of exploiting anticipatory physiological signals to predict future events using implicit intuition.

Personality, Mental State and Procedure in the Experimental Replication of ESP: A Preliminary Study of New Variables

by José M. Pérez-Navarro, Tony Lawrence, and Ian Hume

A large body of research has been conducted in the area of extrasensory perception (ESP). Meta-analyses of the studies show a small, but highly significant, effect that suggests the existence of this process of information transfer. However, the status of the evidence still remains controversial due to the difficulty in replicating this effect robustly across laboratories. In this study we conducted a series of 120 free-response ESP trials in order to explore a set of variables that, from a theoretical perspective, could play a role in the ESP process. Sixty participants were randomly assigned to either a standard ganzfeld or a sensory attenuation condition. Each participant made two guesses: one on a picture (visual target) and another on a group of four objects (multisensory target). The overall percentage of correct guesses (26%) did not differ significantly from chance expectation (25%), therefore providing no evidence for ESP. However, participants under ganzfeld stimulation achieved a significant hit rate of 43% (z = 2.52, p = 0.006, one tail) when using multisensory targets. None of the variables studied, except locus of control, showed statistically significant associations with the individuals’ performance in more than one of the groups resulting from combining target type and technique. It was concluded that the variables that we have explored in the area have not so far proved robust enough to provide a ‘recipe’ for consistent replication of positive results across laboratories.

April 2009

Moderating Factors in Precognitive Habituation: The Roles of Situational Vigilance, Emotional Reactivity and Affect Regulation

by Alexander Batthyany, Georg Sebastian Kranz and Astrid Erber

In this experiment moderating factors of the so-called precognitive habituation effect were studied. The precognitive habituation effect refers to the apparent influence of later shown pictures or words on participants’ choice and preference ratings, which seem to be biased by habituation effects due to repeated display in the future, and so might be interpreted as an instance of precognition. In this study a number of modifications were introduced in the classic precognitive habituation protocol: (a) words and pictures were used as stimulus material, (b) a new individual difference was measured as a potential factor (affect regulation), and (c) subjects were primed into a reactive mindset in order to highlight the affective nature of the choice task. Only low-arousal positive and high-arousal negative stimuli were used. There was no significant main effect, but in accordance with previous results, subjects who scored high on emotional reactivity displayed a significant precognitive habituation effect, but only with high-arousal negative stimuli. Subjects high on affect regulation also showed a significant precognitive habituation effect for negative stimuli. The strongest effect was displayed by subjects who were high both on emotional reactivity and affect regulation.

July 2009

Exploring how gender role and boundary thinness relate to paranormal experiences, beliefs and performance on a force d-choice clairvoyance task

by Christine A. Simmonds-Moore and Stephen L. Moore

Previous research has frequently explored differences between males and females in paranormal cognition (paranormal belief, subjective experience and ostensible psi performance). However, gender role has received little empirical attention with regard to these variables. The work described in this paper explored gender role and personality (Boundary Thinness) and how these variables impacted upon three measures of paranormal cognition: paranormal beliefs, subjective paranormal experiences (SPEs) and performance at a clairvoyance task. It was hypothesised that those who are categorised as androgynous would attain higher scores on each of these measures than those categorised as feminine, masculine or undifferentiated. In addition, it was hypothesised that those who were thinner in terms of psychological boundaries (Hartmann, 1991) would score higher on all indices of paranormal cognition, and we planned to explore whether gender role interacted with boundary thinness. Consequently this study had a 4´2 design, with three dependent variables that measured paranormal belief, paranormal experience and performance on a clairvoyance task.

One hundred and five women participated in the study. Psi scoring in the group as a whole was not significantly different from mean chance expectation. Neither was there any deviation from mean chance expectation in any of the gender role or boundary groupings. In addition, there was no difference between gender role groupings in clairvoyance task performance or SPE scores. However, a main effect was found for paranormal beliefs (c2 = 10.87, df = 3; 0.012, two-tailed): androgynous participants had the highest belief scores overall, although this group scored significantly higher than the undifferentiated group only. Those classified as feminine also scored significantly higher than the undifferentiated group. There were no differences between thin and thick boundary groupings in ESP performance, SPE scores or paranormal beliefs, but some types of boundaries correlated with paranormal belief and anomalous experiences. None of the interactions between gender role and boundaries attained significance. However, post-hoc analyses high­lighted that the gender role difference for paranormal belief existed particularly among thin-boundaried participants. Another post-hoc analysis indicated that thick boundaries may interact with gender role on ESP scoring. Findings are discussed with regard to future directions for research.

October 2009

Angelos Tanagras, The 1935 Oslo International Parapsychology Congress And The Telekinesis Of Cleio

by Fotini Pallikari

In 1935 the President of the Hellenic Society for Psycho-Physiology, Dr Angelos Tanagras, attended the 5th Congress of Parapsychology in Oslo. He presented a 16mm film illustrating the telekinetic influence of a young girl, Cleio, on a large nautical compass needle. The Cleio case and the Oslo Congress are the main topics of this paper, but they also provide an opportunity to introduce the remarkable personality and work of Angelos Tanagras, who has been neglected in the para­psychology literature.

René Sudre (1880–1968): The Metapsychist’s Quill

by Renaud Evrard

René Sudre was an active metapsychist (parapsychologist) from the very beginning of the Institut Métapsychique International (IMI) of Paris. He was well known for his various chronicles on paranormal phenomena, especially his obsession with separating metapsychic research from spiritism. A brief biographical sketch is given that also describes his careers as a journalist and populariser of science. For forty years Sudre pursued a naturalist agenda: examining the scientific enigmas of the 20th century that were the subject-matter of parapsychology. At first he played a key role in the IMI (1921 – 1926), but he had to leave this metapsychic research foundation after a clash. He went on to have a distinguished international career while remaining one of the most prominent of French psychists. In 1956, he published his Traité de Parapsychologie, which was translated into several languages and is still an impressive textbook. He made valuable contributions to parapsychology on both experimental and theoretical issues; for instance, with his model of prosopopesis–metagnomy, which helped him to counter spiritualist interpretations of the phenomena. This paper aims to remember this forgotten pioneer of parapsychology, and to expound some of his central ideas.