2010: Volume 10

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 10(1), pp. 5-39

The Australian Sheep-Goat Scale: Development and Empirical Findings


ABSTRACT: The phrase “the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale”, or ASGS for short, refers to a questionnaire measure (or family of measures) of belief in various aspects of the paranormal, such as extrasensory perception (ESP), life after death, and psychokinesis (PK). The term “sheep” is traditionally used for “believer” in some aspect of psychic phenomena, while “goat” is used for “disbeliever”. Paranormal phenomena have in common the fact that they contradict C. D. Broad’s (1978) Basic Limiting Principles about the existence and operation of mind in the mathematico-physical world, and are therefore in some sense anti-scientific. This paper describes the evolution of the ASGS from a 10-item instrument to an 18-item measure. Since the beginnings of the ASGS in 1976, versions of the scale have beenadministered frequently, and a summary is here provided of relevant empirical findings, both parapsychological and psychological. Finally, a new and improved 26-item version of the scale is offered, based upon, and named for, attitude towards the Basic Limiting Principles.


Volume 10(1), pp. 41-68

Shamanic-Like Journeying and Psi: II. Mental Boundaries, Phenomenology, and the Picture-Identification Task


ABSTRACT: Storm and Rock (2009a) argued that it would be worthwhile investigating psi-conducive treatments other than the Ganzfeld. We thus proposed our  imagery cultivation model. To test our model, Storm and Rock (2009b) randomly assigned non-shaman participants (N = 108) to one of two conditions: (1) a control condition (n = 53) consisting of sitting quietly with eyes open; or (2) a treatment condition (n = 55) involving shamanic-like journeying instructions followed by 15 minutes of monotonous drumming (8 bps). Participants described verbally, and then ranked, a randomly-selected concealed line-drawing held during the condition. The direct hit rate was significant, 34.5% (PMCE = 25%) in the shamanic-like condition, but the hit rate for the controlcondition was at chance, 22.6%. In the present study, we hypothesised that direct hits correlates with Mental Boundaries (Rawlings, 2001-2002; Boundary Questionnaire Short Form) and subjective experience (Pekala, 1991; Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory). We also investigated differences between conditions and ‘thin’ vs. ‘thick’ Mental Boundary participants regarding subjective experience.  Direct hits did not correlate significantly with Mental Boundaries, but correlated significantly with PCI major dimension, Internal Dialogue, for the shamanic-like group, but not the control group. Significant differences between the shamanic-like and control groups were found on three PCI major dimensions (higher Negative Affect, Altered Experience, and Imagery in the shamanic-like group) and four minor dimensions (higher Anger, Body Image, Perception, and Meaning in the shamanic-like group). Significant differences between ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ Mental Boundaries were found on two PCI major dimensions (lower  Negative Affect and higher Volitional Control in thin Mental Boundaries), but not on minor dimensions. Our findings suggest that subjective experience can be changed using a shamanic-like journeying treatment, and aspects of these changes may be psi-conducive.


Volume 10(1), pp. 70-81

Transliminality: A Fundamental Mechanism in Psychology and Parapsychology


ABSTRACT: The concept of transliminality has been variously defined, but usually with the implication that it involves greater incursions from the subliminal consciousness, “across the threshold”, into supraliminal awareness. The concept was derived from a series of factor analyses and eventually embraced the variables paranormal belief and experience, mystical experience, creative personality, manic experience, magical ideation, absorption, fantasy proneness, hyperaesthesia, and (positive) attitude towards dream interpretation. This paper reviews the evidence and conceptualization leading to the concept of transliminality. It analyses the various constituents of transliminality, suggesting its relevance to psychological and parapsychological research and to the concept of psychosis.


Volume 10(2), pp. 120-138

Unusual Perceptual Experiences and ESP under Psychomanteum Stimulation: Imagery/Hallucination Proneness and Schizotypal Personality Measures


ABSTRACT: Although the psychomanteum, originally designed to facilitate reunion experiences with deceased individuals, is not normally employed to test ESP, it may be that it is psi-conducive. This study aimed to test psi performance in high-scoring participants on measures of unusual perceptual experiences and unusual thinking styles. One hundred twenty eight participants were asked to verbalize their mental impressions as much as possible after psychomanteum stimulation. A number of significant results were found. Participants who scored high on visual imagery, visual, auditory, and tactile hallucination, tended to psi-hit. Only the high-scoring visual imagery, visual and tactile hallucination groups (but not the auditory hallucination group) scored significantly higher than the low-scoring groups. Given that suggestion may have a causal role in the experience of anomalous perception, it is plausible that the incidence of psi in the psychomanteum is a function of explicit suggestions for such experiences presented during the facilitation procedure, which may be augmented by restricted stimulation and dissociation.


Volume 10(2), pp. 140-152

Is the ‘Sense of Being Stared At’ an Artefact of Response Bias?


ABSTRACT: Despite a few notable exceptions (e.g., Radin, 2004), the issue of response bias has been ignored in studies investigating the sense of being stared at. In one recent ‘sense of being stared at’ study, Ferris and Rock (2009) synthesised Ganzfeld and remote staring methodologies and reported various significant results concerning stare and no-stare hit rates. The aim of the present study was to use Ferris and Rock’s data-set to examine the potential issue of response bias associated with their receivers’ stare and no-stare guesses. The response bias corrected results presented in this paper are evaluated in light of Ferris and Rock’s initial findings.


Volume 10(2), pp. 154-176

A Study on Coincidences


ABSTRACT: An experiment was conducted to determine if two personality factors, egocentricity and paranormal belief, influenced people’s assertions about ostensible psychic factors involved in coincidences. Participants (N = 75) were presented with six coincidences from two literary sources (Jung, 1973; Plimmer & King, 2004), and were then asked to rate them on degree of paranormality. Since some people believe that some coincidences are too astounding to have normal explanations, it was theorised that there is a relationship between paranormal belief and attribution of psychic causes to coincidences. The egocentricity bias is a bias brought about by egocentrism, which is defined as the belief that another person’s perceptions and knowledge bases are the same as one’s own (Falk, 1989). It was theorised that egocentricity influences the degree to which coincidences are thought to be caused by psychic factors. In the present study, egocentricity was measured on the Selfism Scale (Phares & Erskine, 1984). Participants were divided into ‘High’-, ‘Medium’-, and ‘Low’-Selfism groups, and were designated paranormal believers (sheep), or paranormal non-believers (goats), based on Australian Sheep-Goat Scale scores (Thalbourne, 1995a,b). The High-Selfism group rated the coincidences significantly higher on paranormality than the other two groups, and there was a sheep-goat effect (sheep rated the coincidences higher on paranormality than goats). Alternative explanations of the results are discussed, and recommendations made for future research.


 Volume 10(2), pp. 178-193

Spontaneous Cases Concerning Telephone Calls and Text Messages


ABSTRACT: The author provides some accounts of phenomena relating to telephone and text message experiences suggestive of survival of death as discussed by Rogo and Bayless (1979), and recently by Cooper (2010a). The paper also includes supposedly anomalous experiences for consideration that simply involve the living and are not dissimilar in their characteristics to cases of ‘Telephone Telepathy’. Possible explanations are considered and discussed. Issues of collecting and researching spontaneous cases are also discussed.


Volume 10(2), pp. 194-208

Transliminality: A Bibliography 1991-2010


ABSTRACT: Theoretical, methodological and empirical work on the construct of transliminality (psychological material crossing the threshold into consciousness) began in 1991. Since that time the number of articles on the topic has grown considerably and continues to grow and has now reached about 74 as of our last online search. For the benefit of researchers and students of transliminality, this article provides a bibliography of all published articles to date, together with selected abstracts (and comments thereof where appropriate). The transliminality concept is being widely used in diverse areas of research, though it may be too soon to educe common themes from that research, apart from the central theme of “threshold-crossing”.