added a research item
This special episode contains a webinar organised by the Team to discuss their BIAL Foundation funded project 'A latent profile analysis and structural equation modelling of paranormal belief, psychopathological symptoms, and well-being' (123/2020). The project produced several published outcomes. These can be found via Google Scholar. All episodes available: https://anchor.fm/paranormal-team
Can Science And The Paranormal Coexist - Paranormal Podcast 716 https://jimharold.com/can-science-and-the-paranormal-coexist-paranormal-podcast-716/
Photographic Anomaly at Ordsall Hall taken during a field trip.
One of the atmospheric locations on our visit to Ordsall Hall.
A paranormal talk at Ordsall Hall.
Ghosted! Who Has Paranormal Experiences and Why https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/ghosted/ Information about our new forthcoming text!
The current study investigated the relationship between paranormal belief and scores on cognitive-perceptual personality measures. Three hundred and twenty participants completed a questionnaire battery comprising a newly developed measure of paranormal belief, the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ-B), Peters et al. Delusions Inventory (PDI-21), and the Revised Transliminality Scale (RTS). All three cognitive-perceptual measures positively correlated with overall paranormal belief. Analysis examined comparisons between participants scoring high and low on each cognitive-perceptual measure across paranormal belief sub-scales (Hauntings, Alien, Superstition, Other Life, Religion, PK, ESP, Astrology and Witchcraft). Participants above the median cognitive perceptual measures demonstrated higher levels of endorsement across sub-scale measure. Although all three cognitive-perceptual measures (Cognitive-Perceptual, SPQ-B; RTS; and PDI) predicted overall level of paranormal belief, the cognitive-perceptual factor of the SPQ-B explained the majority of variance.
This paper contains a narrative overview of the past 20-years of environmental research on anomalous experiences attributed to "haunted house." This exercise served as a much-needed update to an anthology of noteworthy overviews on ghosts, haunts, and poltergeists (Houran and Lange, 2001b). We also considered whether new studies had incorporated certain recommendations made in this anthology. Our search revealed a relative paucity of studies (n = 66) on environmental factors that ostensibly stimulate haunt-type experiences. This literature was diverse and often lacked methodological consistency and adherence to the prior suggestions. However, critical consideration of the content revealed a recurring focus on six ambient variables: embedded (static) cues, lighting levels, air quality, temperature, infrasound, and electromagnetic fields. Their relation to the onset or structure of witness reports showed mostly null, though sometimes inconsistent or weak outcomes. However, such research as related to haunts is arguably in its infancy and new designs are needed to account better for environmental and architectural phenomenology. Future studies should therefore address four areas: (i) more consistent and precise measurements of discrete ambient variables; (ii) the potential role of "Gestalt influences" that involve holistic environment-person interactions; (iii) individual differences in attentional or perceptual sensitivities of percipients to environmental variables; and (iv) the role of attitudinal and normative influences in the interpretation of environmental stimuli. Focused scrutiny on these issues should clarify the explanatory power of evolutionary-environmental models for these and related anomalous experiences.
Academic Interest in Parapsychology: Interview
An investigative workshop entitled 'para-design' (paranormal design-thinking beyond or outside of 'normal' design scenarios) explores new territory for design practices. Through examining the degree to which parapsychological belief influences perception of the designed environment, research brought together the anomalous with product design in order to explore design applications. In this context, the term paranormal refers to the conceptualization of paranormality as a phenomenon that violates the fundamental scientifically founded principles of nature. Specifically, Product Design students investigated paranormal perception. Students explored locations and appraised environmental conditions/unusual experiences. A self-report measure included feelings, experience and perception questions. Following investigation, respondents completed questions assessing belief and perception in each location. Typically, locations contained many classic paranormal settings i.e., cold spots, dark/claustrophobic, damp, drafts/chills etc. Specific high perceptual scores were associated with an increased level of perceived haunting and an increase in paranormal belief. Findings suggest that practice based studies through 'para-design' shapes intention, where paranormal belief influences perception of the designed environment. Field-testing generated design proposals to produce paranormal products. These became the centrepiece of an exhibition where interaction with each product revealed how to investigate the anomalous. Specifically, the combination of para-psychology and concept of para-design revealed how design can elicit, engineer and channel perceptive experiences of the paranormal. This research outlines the significance of para-design. Through the translation of subjective and analytical responses, new opportunities for design were investigated that explore personal perceptions to enable the design of tools that facilitate and respond to paranormal phenomena.
Ordsall Hall is a historical building with a reputation for being haunted. Drawing upon the principles of para-design this paper examined participants' perceptions of locations within the Hall. The building alongside renovated spaces contains period architectural features. These combine to produce a rich setting in which to investigate the interaction between the physical environment and perceptions of the anomalous. Participants, in small groups, undertook a guided tour of the building. To determine whether certain areas generated 'ghost-evoking' perceptions participants visited supposedly haunted locations and control sites. Within each location, participants recorded feelings/sensations and noted anomalous/paranormal experiences. Analysis revealed that sensations/feelings related to Temperature, Presence, Dizziness, Emotion, and Uneasiness were higher in the haunted (vs. control) locations. Generally, participants anticipated higher levels of unusual phenomena in haunted locations, but there was no difference in the tendency to attribute these phenomena to spirits/ghosts. Additionally, as reporting of sensations increased so did belief in the paranormal (general and haunting) and the inclination to detect anomalies and attribute paranormal causation to environmental stimuli. Finally, regression analysis revealed that sense of presence best predicted the perception of spirits/ghosts across all locations. Findings were consistent with contemporary design research, which has established associations between environmental cues and anomalous/paranormal perceptions (i.e., staged haunted experiential scenarios). Although, the authors recommend cautious interpretation of findings and acknowledge the need for further research, this paper is important because it provides vital insights into the effects of experience and perception on the appreciation of location and place. Furthermore, the results suggest ways that experiential perceptual experiences can shape and 'tune' paranormal interpretations. In this context, findings suggest prototypes, which inform creation and comprehension of 'paranormal' spaces.
Focusing on lucid dreaming, this paper examined relationships between dissociated experiences related to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (lucid dreaming, nightmares, and sleep paralysis), reality testing, and paranormal experiences/beliefs. The study comprised a UK-based online sample of 455 respondents (110 males, 345 females, Mean age = 34.46 years, SD = 15.70), who had all previously experienced lucid dreaming. Respondents completed established self-report measures assessing control within lucid dreaming, experience and frequency of nightmares, incidence of sleep paralysis, proneness to reality testing deficits (Inventory of Personality Organization subscale, IPO-RT), subjective experience of receptive psi and life after death (paranormal experience), and paranormal belief. Analysis comprised tests of correlational and predictive relationships between sleep-related outcomes, IPO-RT scores, and paranormal measures. Significant positive correlations between sleep and paranormal measures were weak. Paranormal measures related differentially to sleep indices. Paranormal experience correlated with lucid dreaming, nightmares, and sleep paralysis, whereas paranormal belief related only to nightmares and sleep paralysis. IPO-RT correlated positively with all paranormal and sleep-related measures. Within the IPO-RT, the Auditory and Visual Hallucinations sub-factor demonstrated the strongest positive associations with sleep measures. Structural equation modeling indicated that Auditory and Visual Hallucinations significantly positively predicted dissociated experiences related to REM sleep, while paranormal experience did not. However, paranormal experience was a significant predictor when analysis controlled for Auditory and Visual Hallucinations. The moderate positive association between these variables explained this effect. Findings indicated that self-generated, productive cognitive-processes (as encompassed by Auditory and Visual Hallucinations) played a significant role in conscious control and awareness of lucid dreaming, and related dissociative sleep states (sleep paralysis and nightmares).
A review of some measures of paranormal belief.
A summary of some key studies on paranormal belief and experience.
The article is an accessible piece focusing on 20 years of a Parapychology course.
Research on the psychology of paranormal, religious, and delusional belief has been stifled by a lack of careful distinction between anomalous experiences and their corresponding attributions. The Survey of Anomalous Experience (SAE; Irwin, Dagnall, & Drinkwater, 2013) addresses this nuance by measuring proneness to anomalous experience (PAE) and proneness to paranormal attribution (PPA). Using data (351 men, 1,026 women) from 7 previously published studies, we examined the SAE's internal validity via Rasch scaling and differential item functioning analyses. PPA showed good Rasch model fit and no item bias, but it lacked adequate reliability. Several PAE items showed misfit to the Rasch model or gender bias, though deleting 5 items produced a scale with acceptable reliability. Finally, we failed to validate a 3-category rating scale version with the goal of improving the SAE's psychometric properties. All 3 formulations revealed a secondary factor related to the items' extremity rather than contents, suggesting that future research should consider the intensity of respondents' anomalous experiences and paranormal attributions.
An earlier study by Irwin, Dagnall, and Drinkwater (2012a) found a relationship between the intensity of paranormal beliefs and a self-reported proneness to jump to conclusions. This relationship was statistically significant for the factor of Traditional Paranormal Beliefs but was only of borderline significance for the other major factor of paranormal beliefs, New Age Philosophy. The project reported here aimed to replicate the relationship using an additional self-report measure of jumping to conclusions, plus a standard performance measure of this construct. A convenience sample of 124 people completed three measures of proneness to jump to conclusions and a questionnaire surveying paranormal beliefs. A relationship between intensity of paranormal beliefs and proneness to jump to conclusions was confirmed, but the pattern of findings across the various indices of jumping to conclusions raises several issues for further empirical clarification.
An online survey was undertaken to examine the relationship between the intensity of beliefs in paranormal phenomena and two facets of a scientific worldview, namely, an appreciation of the values of science and a disposition to presumptive scepticism. A sample of 202 British residents participated in the survey. The findings indicate that paranormal believers have both a relatively low regard for the values of science and weak dispositional scepticism. These findings are discussed in terms of the worldview hypothesis of paranormal belief.