The Mind Machine: A mass participation experiment into the possible existence of Extrasensory Perception

R. Wiseman, E. Greening

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
186 Downloads (Pure)


For many years scientists have examined the possible existence of extra-sensory perception (ESP). One of the most common types of experiment, referred to as a ‘forced choice’ study, involves participants attempting to guess the identity of hidden targets that have been randomly selected from a set of alternatives known to participants prior to making their guess. Many researchers have argued that the results of these experiments provide strong support for the existence of psychic ability. However, others have criticised many of the experiments on both methodological and statistical grounds. The authors aimed to help resolve this debate by devising a novel way of carrying out a large scale forced choice ESP
experiment. The Mind Machine consisted of a specially designed steel cabinet containing a multi-media computer and large touch screen monitor. The computer presented participants with a series of videoclips that led them through the experiment. During the experiment participants were asked to complete a forced choice ESP task that involved them guessing the
outcome of four random electronic coin tosses. All of their data was stored by the computer during an eleven month tour of some of Britain’s largest shopping centres, museums and science festivals. 27,856 participants contributed 110,959 trials, and thus the final database had the statistical power to detect the possible existence of a very small ESP effect.
However, the cumulated outcome of the trials was consistent with chance. The experiment also examined the possible relationship between participants’ ESP scores and their gender, belief in psychic ability and degree of predicted success. The results from all of these analyses were non-significant. Also, scoring on ‘clairvoyance’ trials (where the target was selected prior to the participant’s choice) was not significantly different from ‘precognitive’ trials (where the target was chosen after the participants had made their choice). Competing
interpretations of these findings are discussed, along with suggestions for future research
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-499
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


Dive into the research topics of 'The Mind Machine: A mass participation experiment into the possible existence of Extrasensory Perception'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this