This experimental study attempted to prove that psi telepathic communication possibly existed and that the use of emotive stimuli improved this ability compared to the use of non-emotive stimuli. The study involved 632 undergraduate students who were asked to use Emotion cards (experimental group) and non-emotional Zener cards (control groups) for transmitting and receiving their perceptions and impressions, respectively. The results showed a slight improvement in telepathic communication in the experimental group compared to the control group. The results also showed that the use of non-emotive stimuli had significantly better outcomes than chance expectation.
Psi refers to “anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms” (Bem, 2011, p. 407). It has two types, namely precognition or conscious cognitive awareness and the premonition or affective apprehension of future events that would otherwise be impossible to anticipate in an inferential manner (Bem, 2011). In addition, the psi phenomena includes telepathy, which is the transfer of information from one person to another without any physical or known mediation; clairvoyance, which is also referred to as remote viewing; and psychokinesis, which is the ability to influence biological or physical processes through intentions or thoughts.
Previous research, which was compiled by the Psychical Research Societies (as cited in Moss & Gengerelli, 1967), showed that most instances of telepathy occurred when the transmitter was experiencing emotional stress. This was supported by a study by Moss & Gengerelli (1967), which indicated that receivers were able to perceive or predict what the transmitters were viewing when the transmitters were subjected to emotional stimuli while the receivers were in a relaxed state. In this study, the stimuli consisted of videos that were meant to evoke different kinds of emotions on the transmitter. This was later replicated in another study by Moss & Gengerelli (1971), which showed that participants who indicated a belief in ESP or that they had ESP-related experiences were more likely to come up with correct impressions than those who did not believe in ESP or who believed in ESP but had no personal ESP-related experiences. In this study, the transmitters were shown slides that were accompanied by appropriate sounds and that evoked various types of emotions. The receivers then tried to get their impressions on the transmitters’ perceptions. Similarly, presentiment experiments as initiated by Radin (as cited in Bem, 2011) showed that the subjects started to experience emotional arousal even before the actual emotional stimulus was displayed. In this study, the emotional stimulus came in the form of a highly arousing erotic or negative image. As well, Gelade & Harvie (1975) tried to replicate Moss & Gengerelli’s (1971) study and although they failed to replicate Moss & Gengerelli’s (1971) results, Gelade & Harvie’s (1975) findings suggested that the receivers’ level of confidence in their impressions were positively related to their correctness. Moreover, it would be interesting to note that the study conducted by Moss & Gengerelli (1971) showed that artists were more inclined to experience ESP than non-artists while Bem’s (2011) study showed that extraverts were more likely to experience ESP than did introverts.
While the current study does not intend to conduct an exact replication of Moss’ & Gengerelli’s studies (1967; 1971), this study aims to replicate some of these researchers’ results, particularly that psi telepathic communication possibly exists and that ESP or telepathic communication is improved by emotive stimuli compared to non-emotive stimuli. In this regard, this research hypothesizes that telepathic psi communication exists and that the use of emotive stimuli will result in more successful perceptions than the use of non-emotive stimuli.
A total of 632 undergraduate students from the University of Western Sydney participated in a study of psi performance. These students were randomly allocated to an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group consisted of students who transmitted and received the Emotion cards, n= 328; and the control group consisted of students who transmitted and received the non-emotional ‘Zener’ cards, n = 304
Materials and Apparatus
Each transmitter was provided with one pack of 25 cards. These cards were either Zener cards or Emotion cards. Zener cards consist of five different shapes. These shapes are a circle, a square, a triangle, a star or three squiggly lines. Each shape is represented five times, creating a pack of 25 cards in total. Emotion cards consist of five different pictures. These pictures include an eye, a car, an insect, a baby or a face. Each picture is represented five times, creating a pack of 25 cards in total.
Each receiver was provided with a score sheet. This score sheet consisted of five options for each of the 25 cards. These options were five shapes (for the transmitter who held the Zener cards) or five pictures (for the transmitter who held the Emotion cards). The score sheet for Zener cards had a ‘Z’ in the top right corner and the score sheet for the Emotion cards had an ‘E’ in the top right corner.
Participants were tested in class groups (n =15 to 26). At the start of class, each student was asked to pair off with the person sitting next to them.
Each pair was provided with a set of 25 cards and a score sheet. Each pair received a pack of 25 Zener cards or 25 Emotion cards. The cards were arranged randomly within each pack. If an Emotion card we reassigned to a student pair then they received a score sheet with an ‘E’ in the top right corner. If a Zener card were assigned to a student pair then they received a score sheet with a ‘Z’ in the top right corner.
Participants were then asked to choose who would be the transmitter and who would be the receiver. A transmitter was the participant who viewed the cards and a receiver attempted to determine what the cards were. The transmitter and receiver are just two of many available terms describing participants in this type of psi task.
The transmitter sat opposite the receiver (at a distance of 2-3 meters) and hid the cards as efficiently as possible (e.g., in cupped hands). Students were asked to make no noise throughout the experiment.
When ready, the transmitter informed the receiver that they were examining the first card (at the top of the pack). The transmitter was instructed to endeavor to “transmit” the pictorial content to the receiver (they could spend about 10 seconds attempting to send the image). The receiver was instructed to try and determine which shape or picture was “transmitted”. They circled the corresponding shape or picture (from the choice of 5) next to “Trial 1” on their score sheet.
Once the first trial was completed, the transmitter moved the first card to the back of the pack (no replacement) and performed the same “transmission attempt” for card 2 (“Trial 2”), and so on, until the full complement of 25 cards had been examined. The receiver circled the label for the image they believe was transmitted for “Trial 2”, and continued to do so for each succeeding trial until the run had been completed.
At the end of the 25 trials the transmitter collected the score sheet and marked the receiver’s answers, using the order of cards in their deck. The overall score (out of 25) was recorded in the box at the bottom of the score sheet. Students were then debriefed as to the purpose of the study.
The purpose of the study was to determine firstly whether telepathic psi communication exists; and secondly whether emotive stimuli improve telepathic psi performance compared to non-emotive stimuli. For each card being transmitted the receiver had five choices. The average number of correct choices had a probability of .2 of being correct. The average number of correct choices to be expected if chance alone were operating was 5 out of 25 cards. The observed average number of correct choices for emotion stimuli (Emotion cards) was 7.07 (SD = 3.66). This was significantly higher than chance expectation, χ2 (1, N = 328) = 176.22, p<.001. The observed number of correct choices for non-emotion stimuli (Zener cards) was 6.89 (SD = 3.79). This was significantly higher than chance expectation, χ2 (1, N = 304) = 183.23, p<.001. Whether emotive stimuli improved psi performance compared to non-emotive stimuli was measured by the receiver’s success at determining the content of the card that the transmitter was viewing. With alpha set at .05, a one-way chi-square revealed that the receiver’s success rate for emotional stimuli (28.3%) was not significantly different from the receiver’s success for non-emotional stimuli (27.6%), 2 = (1, N = 632) = .50, p= .480.
While the results of this study showed that there was a slightly higher rate of success with the use emotional stimuli (28.3%) compared to the use of non-emotional stimuli (27.6%), the difference was not significant. This could be explained by the lack of emotional intensity in the stimuli used. For example, studies conducted by researchers such as Moss & Gengerelli (1967; 197), Bem (2011) and Gelade & Harvie (1975) made use of stimuli that incorporated both emotionally arousing images (e.g. negative or disturbing images and erotic images) and sound. Understandably, these kinds of stimuli would be considered more emotionally stimulating than a deck of Emotion cards. Moreover, the environments where the aforementioned researchers conducted their studies allowed for the transmitters and receivers to be isolated in rooms where they did not have distractions, enabling them to more clearly transmit and receive their perceptions and impressions, respectively. In contrast, the environment for the current research allowed the transmitters and receivers to be within sight of each other, which may have caused some distractions. Moreover, the studies conducted by these researchers – particularly those conducted by Moss & Gengerelli (1967; 1971) -- involved participants who claimed to have abilities and experiences in ESP whereas these were not tested and accounted for in the current research.
However, despite the limitations of the current research, the results still suggested that there was a slight improvement in psi telepathic communication when using emotive stimuli compared to using non-emotive stimuli. As well, the results showed that the use of non-emotive stimuli led to better outcomes than chance, which can indicate that psi telepathic communication possibly exists.
For future research, it would be recommended that more emotionally intense stimuli be used for evoking emotions in the transmitters and that the study be conducted in an environment that would enable the transmitters and the receivers to more easily and clearly focus on their perceptions and impressions. It would also be recommended that sounds be incorporated with the visual stimuli to further intensify the emotions evoked in the transmitters. Finally, it would be recommended that separate studies be conducted for people who report no ESP-related abilities and experiences and for people who report having these abilities and experiences. It is possible that not everyone has the ability for psi telepathic communication and it would be interesting to determine the traits and characteristics that are common among those who do have the ability.
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