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A psychological analysis of ganzfeld protocols.

ABSTRACT: To assess the psychological state of the percipient at the time of the ganzfeld session, the author constructed a rating system for analyzing the mentation reports of the participant in terms of a number of discrete indicators of emotional, physical, and cognitive functioning. Thirty-six scales were developed and manualized to a satisfactory level of interrater reliability. Transcripts of 364 ganzfeld sessions drawn from several different studies from 3 different laboratories were scored on all dimensions by at least 3 independent raters who were blind to the participant's identity, the actual target content, and the degree of ESP success of the session. To guard against overanalysis, the author defined a composite cluster a priori made up of several scales that were most strongly expected to predict scoring, and this was tested against rank scores in a relatively large pilot subset. This cluster did predict performance significantly. A slightly revised version of the cluster was tested against rank s scores in a smaller confirmatory sample, with a roughly comparable degree of association found that was not significant given the smaller N. Post hoc analysis made it clear that the cluster predicted performance well for participants in both subsets who were not professionals in the performing arts but did not predict well for the artists. In light of this, single-scale correlational analyses were conducted of the data as a whole and for the artist and nonartist samples separately. It was found that, in general, participants tended to hit when their scores suggested a very positive adjustment and when imagery was allowed to develop in a free and personally involving way. Participants who missed showed more signs of anxiety and obsessive attempts to control the experience. Participants whose imagery showed signs of regressed reasoning and primitive affect scored well when anxiety was low but not when it was high. The relationships found in a subset of highly creative participants (who scored quite highly) we re generally the same as those in the data of the larger, less-creative population but differed primarily in the importance of reports of physical experiences. Expressions of physical discomfort, in particular, were strongly associated with psi-missing for this group. The less-creative group did better when there were reports of positive physical experiences in the session, but this was not the case for the artists. The expression of odd, particularly "altered" physical experiences, which was expected to predict hitting in both groups, did not do so in either.

The measures also provided sensible discriminations between the more- and less-creative participants, irrespective of ESP scores. Protocols of the artists contained more images and expressed less pleasurable physical experience, and their imagery differed in being more colorful and active, showing more tolerance of negative affect, expressing more regressed types of reasoning and more primary process emotion, and showing less defensive constraint and intellectualization. These latter findings suggest that these measures show promise in addressing several questions of general psychological interest to researchers concerned with the ganzfeld.
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Author:Carpenter, James C.
Publication:The Journal of Parapsychology
Article Type:Abstract
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2001
Words:494
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