Sunday, August 31, 2008

Clairvoyance and dissonance

Exactly what mood does a person have to be in to be psychic? This question has been asked again and again by parapsychologists and many research papers have been written in an effort to answer that question. The failures of one parapsychologist to duplicate the results of another researcher have frequently been blamed on the subjects not being in the right mood. So we come back again to the question: What is the right mood? Unfortunately the answers have sometimes been as cryptic as the question.

Dr. Rex G. Stanford said that he felt in general the above chance scoring ESP subjects might show a greater difference between “self" and “ideal-self” than would the below-chance scoring subjects. This would be caused by the psychics trying harder. They feel a need to improve and so they are comfortable dealing with the Unknown. The Unknown is confusing and conflicting and if the subject is at ease with her idea of self being different from her idea of “ideal-self” she will be comfortable with the Unknown. Dr. Stanford adapted the semantic differential scale of Charles Osgood for a test he reported in September of 1964. The test consisted of giving pairs of adjective, such and “intelligent-dull,” or “religious-skeptical,” to the subject who was asked to rate himself on the ideal self , and then on a different page they rated their self. There were seven points between the two extremes offered by the pair of adjectives.

Religious __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Skeptical

So the person rated his ideal-self on the topic of “Religious-skeptical” on any one of seven degrees between these two extremes. Then another sheet was given to the subject and he rated your-true-self on the same scales.

Then the subjects were given a clairvoyance test.

When the two semantic differential scales were compared the doctor could see if a subject’s idea about “himself” or “Herself” was close to or far from their idea about “ideal-self.” Then the results were compared to the results from the clairvoyance test. Dr. Stanford was right. The above chance scorers had a greater discrepancy between “self” and “ideal self” then did below chance scores. Clairvoyants are more comfortable with this psychological dissonance. The p-value was much less then .005.

The difference between self and ideal self can be interpreted in a great many ways. It might be said that a person who feels very inferior is closer to childlike state of mind. Or it could be seen as an early stage of such mental states as multiple personality, that causes activities like somnambulism. This happens when action is taken by a part of a person’s mind that they don't usually identify with. These may be disassociated states. In fact these mental states have been seen in psychics.

For now the important thing, is that those who score well on ESP tests feel comfortable even in situations that cause or threaten to cause confusion. Psychics can choose methods of reducing this confusion even about themselves and maintain their self confidence.
Stanford, R. G. 1964 Attitude and personality variables in ESP The Journal of Parapsychology 28: 1966-175.

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