Methodological Issues- Paranormal Action (ESP)

  • Created by: Ross Hill
  • Created on: 22-02-15 11:51

Paranormal Action- ESP inc. Ganzfeld


Honorton (1974)/Ganzfeld Studies

Aim; To create a situation of sensory deprivation to suppress sesnory input so a subject is better able to use their ESP and receive telpathic messages


  • Receiver is typically isolated in a red lit room, 1/2 tennis balls over eyes and earphones playing white noise
  • Sender is in another room and chooses 1 of 4 images to send telepathically--> random choice
  • Afterwards a receiver is shown a set of images and asked to select the target image from several OR the receiver describes the image and it is matched to one of the images
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Researcher Bias

Positive result from non-sceptical researchers are due to the fact that jealous phenomena only appear in presence of a non sceptic

Wooffitt (2007);

  • Observed that sceptical researchers were less encouraging when asking for elaboration of images
  • Interviewers who believed in psi gained and tried to get longer responses which lead to more positive results
  • Sheep- Goat Effect- Research Expectations Biased Results

Hyman (1985);

  • even if significant effects are found, they are meaningless unless some explanation can be offered on how this happens
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Biased Analysis

Researchers belief influenced method of analysis chosen, resulting in results that supported the researcher beliefs 

Charles Honorton (1985);

  • Analysis of 28 Ganzfeld studies
  • Performance significantly above chance

Ray Hyman (1985);

  • Reanalysed results with different method
  • Results were not significant
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File-Drawer Effect

Meta analysis

Outcome of such reviews change if some studies are removed

Publication Bias- researchers file away studies with negatuve outcomes

Researchers beliefs influence whats left out and put in

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Lack of Control

Poor sound proofing of receivers room heard by receiver 

Bias towards selecting 1st in order of presentation--> randomised

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Improving Control

Autoganzfeld studies developed 

Automated computer system to selcect and display targets --> experimenter bind to selected target so cannot unconsciously influecne target slected by judge as a match

Receiver placed in sound proof steel walled and elctro-magnetically shielded room

Dealt with major objections

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Conflicting Findings

Honorton et al (1990);

  • Reported results of 11 autoganzfeld studies involving 8 different researchers
  • Hit rate of 34%- statistically significant effect

Milton and Wiseman (1999);

  • 30 further well controlled ganzfeld studies
  • No sinificant effects BUT included studies which haden't followed Ganzfeld protocol

Bem et al (2001):

  • Removed inconsistent studies
  • Added more recent studies
  • Significant results obtained
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