Recalling pseudo-psychic demonstrations

R. Wiseman, R.L. Morris

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    This paper describes two experiments which investigate how believers in the paranormal (labelled 'Sheep') and disbelievers (labelled 'Goats') recall different aspects of pseudo-psychic demonstrations (i.e., conjuring tricks that can be misinterpreted as genuine psychic phenomena). In both experiments Ss were first shown a videotape containing pseudo-psychic trickery. They were then asked to rate the 'paranormal' content of the videotape and complete a set of recall questions. Ss were then told that the videotape contained magic tricks, and asked to complete a second set of recall questions. The recall questions contained information both 'important' and 'unimportant' to the method of the tricks. Overall, the results suggested that (i) Sheep displayed a slight tendency to rate the demonstrations as more 'paranormal' than Goats, (ii) initially Goats tended to recall significantly more 'important' information than Sheep and that, (iii) even when told that the videotape contained trickery, Goats tended to recall more 'important' information than Sheep (but only after Sheep had lost access to 'surface' memory for the videotape). Suggestions for improved methodology are given, along with proposals for future work in this area.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-125
    JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1995


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