This project was aimed at testing and improving an experimental protocol for successful ESP research
derived from a previous phase of research (Perez-Navarro, 2003). Two studies were conducted using the standard Ganzfeld sensory attenuation technique (see e. g. Bem and Honorton, 1994). In each experiment two participants were tested. One would act as a telepathic sender, trying to communicate the meaning and characteristics of a visual stimulus to the second participant (the receiver) who, under sensory attenuation in a distant room, reported his spontaneous mental imagery and subjective impressions. The first study (N=60) was conducted in order to explore a set of participants’ traits, state, and environmental factors as predictors of the study success. Five variables showed significant associations with the participants’ ESP scores at an a=.01. These were: sensory adaptation, concern on the external environment, absorption, and task disorientation during Ganzfeld stimulation as well as pre-session energetic arousal. A stepwise forward logistic regression analysis performed on the predictors with p-values of .05 or less showed a 3 variable solution. Thus, the probability of obtaining a hit in a given experiment was accounted by pre-session energetic arousal, concern about the external environment, and task disorientation during the Ganzfeld
stimulation. The second study (N=90) showed a significant hit rate of 33% (z=1.86, p= 0.03, one tail). Only four of the predictors tested replicated both significance and direction from the previous study. These were neuroticism, sensory adaptation, absorption, and task disorientation during the Ganzfeld stimulation. Three further variables (practice of mental disciplines, pre-session arousal, and arousal during the Ganzfeld stimulation) replicated direction but did not reach statistical significance in this second series. It was concluded that operating simultaneously on three domains (participant selection, pre and on-session state, and post-hoc indicators of the occurrence of psi) screening for participants and/or weighting sessions on the basis of the successful predictors observed in the pilot series was an efficient strategy to increase the rate of success in the main study.
Pérez Navarro, J. M. (2007). The Role of Individual Differences, Mental State and Procedure in the Experimental Testing of the ESP Hypothesis. Submitted to the European Journal of Personality.; Pérez Navarro, J. M. Does Psi Exist? An Experimental Protocol for Successful ESP Research. In preparation.