Feeling the future: two independent replication attempts

Chris A Roe, Sarah Grierson, Aaron Lomas

Research output: Contribution to ConferenceAbstractpeer-review


Mainstream researchers remain uninterested in the findings of parapsychology. This may be attributable to the anomalous nature of such findings, with no generally accepted theoretical framework to make sense of the data, but also to the natural suspicion (perhaps best captured by Hyman‘s [1994, 2010] responses to the best evidence case for free response ESP) that the methods used are quite unlike those used in conventional areas and leave scope to suspect that ESP will stand for (methodological) 'Error Some Place‘. This can be overcome by encouraging mainstream researchers to attempt replications for themselves, so that they can scrutinize the methodology directly. Indeed, Daryl Bem has asserted that the 'holy grail‘ for psi researchers would consist of ―- a straightforward, transparent laboratory demonstration of psi that could be replicated by any competent experimenter‖ (2003, p. 7), and he has concentrated his efforts on identifying such demonstrations. A second feature of Bem‘s approach, which also serves to address concerns about possible artifacts, is his strategy to take well-established and uncontroversial psychological effects and turn them into tests of precognition by reversing the temporal order of the elements to see if some of the effect survives. For example, it is generally accepted (cf. Klauer & Musch, 2003) that if participants are tasked with responding as quickly as possible to a stimulus to register whether it is positive or negative, then their reaction times will be affected by brief (often subliminal) exposure to a related stimulus called the 'prime‘; if the prime and stimulus are congruent then reaction times are faster, if they are incongruent then they are slower. In Bem‘s precognitive version, participants are exposed to the prime after responding to the stimulus. Given that the only change to the methodology is to change the order of the elements, this approach is both familiar (and perhaps therefore unthreatening) to mainstream psychologists and also difficult to criticize on methodological grounds without undermining the already-accepted mainstream work. Bem has been remarkably successful in this venture. In 2011 he published in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology a summary of nine discrete experiments that described time-reversed effects. These represent four distinct paradigms: precognitive approach/avoidance effects; retroactive affective priming; retroactive habituation; and retroactive
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012
Event55th Annual Parapsychological Association Convention - Millennium Hotel, Durham, United States
Duration: 9 Aug 201212 Aug 2012


Conference55th Annual Parapsychological Association Convention
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Psychology
  • Parapsychology
  • Future


Dive into the research topics of 'Feeling the future: two independent replication attempts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this