SSE-PA Connections

SSE-PA Connections

Expectancies and Psi: The Challenges of Replication
Marilyn Schlitz

Introduction: This paper addresses the replication problem in parapsychology through the examination of experimenter and participant belief in psi and their impact on the outcome of a psi task in three separate studies. This experiment included Study One that measured expectancies, Study Two attempted to influence expectancies of experimenters and subjects through priming after showing either randomized pro or anti-psi statements (for participants) and videos (for experimenters), Study Three made use of implicit measures to examine unconscious beliefs.

Each study made use of a standardized psi protocol developed by Daryl Bem that has been the focus of several recent replication attempts and that allows for a systematic collection of data under well-controlled conditions. The study required no instrumentation beyond a desktop computer, thirty minutes per session, and requiring statistical analyses no more complex than a t-test across sessions or participants, although more complex statistics were needed for Study 3. Specifically, the replication protocol of each study tested the retroactive priming aspect of experiment 4 of Bem, 2011) by examining reaction time for congruent or incongruent pairing of words and pictures.

The results of the psi task were the dependent measure for both the psi replication attempts and for the experimenters’ and subjects’ expectancy effects. The pre-registered hypotheses found mixed results for both psi and expectancies.

These studies were sponsored by the BIAL Foundation and involved collaboration with a team of scientists in laboratories across Europe and the United States.

The Parapsychological Association is an international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psi (or ‘psychic’) experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition. The primary objective of the PA is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences.

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