Factors underlying anomalous experience

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  • Created by: xecila
  • Created on: 11-06-13 16:22

Cognitive factors underlying anomalous experience

A lot of the differential results from psi research seems to be able to be explained by the 'sheep-goat' effect, the former being the believers, the latter being sceptics. Followers/Stubborn

a. Jones and Russell (1980) did a study about the recall of a 'successful' and 'unsuccessful' demonstration of ESP. Sheep were more likely to distort their recall of the unsuccessful demo, and to remember it as being successful. Goats were more likely to recall correctly whether experiencing successful or unsuccessful demos

b. Wiseman and Smith (2002) found that those who believe in horoscopes have altered perception of accuracy. Participants who were previously assessed for levels of belief were each given the same 4 horoscopes - 2 were said to be "readings from their own birth signs", 2 were readings from another sign. Believers gave higher scores for accuracy and lower for generality (where readings are merely general and not specific) - on all readings! NB: All readings were made up anyway!

IDA SYNOPTIC - May there be a human need for horoscopes? They may give some a sense of security via an idea of somehow 'controlling the future'. However, they might also reasonably be associated with the idea of locus of control and the persoanlity traits associtaed with this. An external locus would understand the element of fate in horoscopes.

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Cognitive factors underlying anomalous experience

c. Wiseman, Smith and Wiseman (1995) similar to their previous study, belief in the paranormal led to 40% of believers at a seance saying that an object had moved on its own, only 14% of non-believers said so

d. French and Wilson (2007) - believers in the paranormal have a more distorted concept of randomness, leading them to see meaning where there is none. This led them to make errors in SYLLOGISTIC REASONING (coming to a conclusion about 2 statements e.g. 'If this psychic is genuine they will be able to accurately describe my persoanlity. This psychic can describe my personality accurately, therefore this psychic is genuine.'

e. Musch and Ehrenberg (2007) - believers tend to have lower intelligence - based on exam performance and their highest educational attainmernt.

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Personality factors underlying anomalous experienc

a. Parra and Villaneuva (2003)...about the trait of extroversion: Villaneuva 'sent' messages to participants who had to guess what photo was being sent. Extroverts (those classified on the Eyesencks Personality Inventory (EPI) as outgoing/seeking new experiences) scored significantly higher than did introverts. 

b. Goulding (2005)... on mental health. Schizotypy (thought to be a milder form of schizophrenia) is linked to paranormal belief/experience.  French et al (2008) There is also a link with those mentally ill people who are prone to disconnecting of thoughts, feeling, memories and indentity (i.e. the tendency to dissociate)

c. Fantasy Proneness - Refers to those able to thoroughly convinve themselves of another/different reality. Those highly suceptible to hypnosis and with rich fantasy lives and vivid imaginations, are a case in point. French and Wilson (2006) state that the variables correlating with paranormal beliefs/experience (i.e Fantasy Proneness and Dissociation) also correlate with 'suceptability' and 'false memories'. Gow et a; (2001) looked at the prevalence of Fantasy Proneness in those claiming alien abduction or UFO sightings. These people were measured against controls and it was found that any UFO experience was linked to high levels of Fantasy Proneness. 

IDA - How do you measure FP? Is psychology equipped for job of eval. paranormal experience? 

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Evaluation of Personality Factors

  • Rattet and Bursik (2000) suggested the contradictory results found in extorversion research may be due to methodological issues e.g. imprecise operational definitions of what consitutes phsycic belief and the sepcific biases of the researchers. 
  • The relationship between personality and anomalous experience is not simplistic; different personality factors are associated with different aspects of the topic area e.g. neuroticism is associated with paranormal belief whereas extroversion is associated with psychic ability such as ESP. 
  • Extroverts may perform better in tests of ESP ability purely because they can adapt swiftly to new social situations and are motivated and comfortable with being tested. Introverts may not adjust so readily or be so activated and engrossed by it.
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