What makes a good psi target? Three studies of forced-choice ESP varying target emotionality and complexity

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Three experiments studied performance on a 24-trial forced-choice psi task with 12 emotionally unpleasant and 12 neutral targets. The emotional targets consisted of 8 simple black and white line drawings and 4 colorful and more complex pictures; the neutral targets consisted of 12 identical line drawings of a rectangle. Participants made a binary choice as to whether each target was emotional or neutral and the main target variables under study were emotional versus neutral and simple versus complex. Experiment 1 had a GESP design and 48 novice participants. Experiment 2 had a clairvoyance design and 14 experienced participants who had taken part in Experiment 1 and who had then undergone training in techniques reputed to enhance psi performance. Experiment 3 had a clairvoyance design and 75 novice participants. In all three studies participants showed no difference in scoring between emotional and neutral targets once participants' preference for calling ''neutral'' more often than ''emotional'' was taken into account Participants scored nonsignificantly higher for complex as compared to simple emotional targets in Experiments 1 and 2, but Experiment 3 found the opposite trend. Exploratory analyses using participants' individual emotionality ratings of the targets also found Little difference in ESP scoring comparing the most to the least emotional targets. Finally, these laboratory findings were related to the study of spontaneous cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-41
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Parapsychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1996

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