Experimenter effects and the remote detection of staring

Richard Wiseman, Marilyn Schlitz

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Each of the two authors recently attempted to replicate studies in which the "receivers" were asked to psychically detect the gaze directed at them by unseen "senders." R. W.'s studies failed to find any significant effects; M. S.'s study gave positive results. The authors then agreed to carry out the joint study described in this paper, in the hope of determining why they had originally obtained such different results. The experimental design was based on each author carrying out separate experiments, but running them in the same location, using the same equipment/procedures, and drawing participants from the same subject pool. The 32 experimental sessions were divided into two sets of randomly ordered trials. Half were "stare" trials during which the experimenter directed his/her attention toward the receiver; half were "non-stare" (control) trials during which the experimenter directed his/her attention away from the receiver. The receivers' electrodermal activity (EDA) was continuously recorded throughout each session. The EDA of R. W.'s receivers was not significantly different during stare and non-stare trials. By contrast, the EDA of M. S.'s receivers was significantly higher in stare than non-stare trials. The paper discusses the likelihood of different interpretations of this effect and urges other psi proponents and skeptics to run similar joint studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Parapsychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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