Methodological Issues- Paranormal Action (Psychokinesis)

  • Created by: Ross Hill
  • Created on: 22-02-15 18:38

Psychokinesis (Paranormal Action)

Movement or manipulation of objects or events without any physical contact

Macro-pk --> distorting an object

Micro-pk --> influencing output of probalistic systems 

                        e.g. Dice Throwing OR random number generation such as the Lottery

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Effect of Expectations

Wiseman and Greening (2005);

  • Participants were shown a video where a fake psychic placed a bent key on a table
  • 1 condition- PPs heard him say the key was continuing to bend
  • 2 condition- PPs heard nothing
  • Found PPs later were more likely to report further bending than no extension condition
  • Shows expectation make it more likely for a person to report paranormal effect
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Lack of Control

Hansel (1989);

  • well controlled studies tended to produce no support for PK 30
  • Ideal controls for a conclusive PK test are having 2 researchers, true randomisation of targets and using independent recording of targets
  • Found out 13/30 pk studies produced positive results none of which were adequately controlled
  • On the other hand many of the studies returned negative results did apply control so positive results if due to flawed methodology 

Radin and Nelson (2003);

  • Meta analyses of over 500 micro-pk studies (1959-2000)
  • Assesed methodological quality (e.g. size of sample) of ach study and co related these with outcomes finding no sig. relationship

Bosch et al (2003);

  • looked at the highest quality studies and found no significant relationships
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Ecological Validity

Use of random number generators (REG) has led some paranormal resarchers to suggest that this is an inappropriate way to investiagte psychokinesis as it concerns unobservable changes not observable

May be that PK doesnt function at an unobserved level

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Number of Investigators

Positive findings due to involvement of a small number of investigators

Radin and Nelson (2006);

  • Review of 500 studies suggest that no. of investigator is not the case
  • 91 investigators- 1/2 studies by 10 researchers
  • Conclude this suggests that overall significant effect cannot be attributed to small group of investigators gaining sig. results
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File-Drawer Effect

Positive PK results have been attributed to selective reporting

Radin and Nelson (2003):

  • calculated that there would need to be 10 unpublished studies with negative effects for each of 500 published studies to nulify the effect

 Radin et al (2006);

  • Conducted a survey
  • Found that on average the number of unreported studies per investigator is 1
  • File-drawer effect unlikely to explain positive findings
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Effect Size

Bierman (2000);

  • analysed a large number of paranormal studies incluidng micro-pk studies
  • Concluded that there has been a steady decline in effect size
  • Real effect- size of an effect becomes greater over time as able to identify and control extraneous variables
  • In reality increasing control had opposite effect in paranormal research- effect size getting smaller- not real!!!!
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