An implicit and explicit assessment of morphic resonance theory using Chinese characters

David Vernon*, Glenn Hitchman, Chris Roe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Learning and memory have traditionally been assumed to be solely reliant on cortical functioning. However, the transmission of acquired habits and transgenerational memory effects challenge this assumption. A complementary view is that learning and memory may also be supported by some form of interaction, or resonance, that takes place between the individual and a wider morphic field which contains information that may be able to shape learning and memory. It has been suggested that information from such a morphic field could influence an individual’s ability to respond to an unfamiliar language which has a large number of past speakers. This has been tested using non-Chinese speaking individuals presented with real and decoy Chinese characters. However, the outcomes have been equivocal. Hence, the aim of the current study was to examine and extend this research by utilising and comparing performance from implicit and explicit tasks. The predictions were that participants should implicitly prefer real Chinese characters and explicitly identify real Chinese characters at levels greater than chance. An opportunity sample of 154 participants completed an implicit preference task and an explicit identification task online with task order counterbalanced. In each task participants were shown, in a random order, 12 pairs of characters (one real and one decoy). In the implicit task they were required to identify which of the characters they preferred and in the explicit task they were asked to identify which of the pair was the real character. Measures of belief in psi were also obtained. The results showed that, contrary to the prediction, participants significantly preferred the decoy Chinese characters. There was no difference in explicit identification rates and no correlations between performance and belief in psi. These findings fail to support the idea of morphic resonance and are more parsimoniously accounted for in terms of an aesthetic preference for the decoy characters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129–144
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Society for Psychical Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


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