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Unit 4 Anomalistic Psychology Notes

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Unit 4 Anomalistic Psychology Revision

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Psychology A2 Revision Notes Unit 4: Anomalistic Psychology Anomalistic Psychology
  Anomalistic Psychology: Study of a wide range of unusual or out of the ordinary experiences, e.g. seeing UFOs or ghosts.
Sometimes called paranormal psychology.
Includes: o Extra sensory perception (ESP). o Psychokinesis (PK). o Out of body experiences (OBD). o Near death experiences (NDE).
Assumption is that paranormal forces do not exist and researchers attempt to explain such experiences in the form of psychological and physical factors.
Paranormal psychologists tend to focus on ESP and PK and assume that paranormal forces do exist. Is Parapsychology a Pseudoscience?


Pseudoscience: Explanations which claim to be based on scientific methods but in-fact does not meet the criteria for it to be a science. In order to be a science it must meet these key criteria's; objectivity, control, empirical, theory construction and replicability. There are 5 issues which suggest that paranormal psychology is a pseudoscience (i.e not a science): o Use of vague or untestable hypotheses;
 Karl Popper believed that theories should come first and they should be used to generate a hypothesis which can be falsified.
 Any hypothesis which cannot be disproven cannot be considered as a scientific theory.
 Many paranormal claims and research methods used are beyond falsification.
 To defend themselves, paranormal psychologists have come up with the 'shyness effect' which they claim is when ESP doesn't work due the negative vibes from sceptics in the room.
 They have also come up with loopholes which the build into their hypotheses so they can't be proven wrong.
 E.g. The New Creationists who say that the Earth is only 6000 y/o. o Burden of proof;
 In science the burden of proof should lie with the person making the claim.
 Paranormal science it lies with the sceptics as they are asked to disprove the claims or offer an alternative explanation.
 E.g. Cottingley Fairies:
 Photographs taken by 10 and 13 y/o girls in 1917.
 Claimed they were photos of fairies that played with them in the garden.

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Taken as evidence that fairies exist. Photographic evidence was difficult to falsify and it was responsibility of the sceptic to prove they were false.
 1980s, girls confessed they were cardboard cut outs. Lack of ability to change;
 Feature of science is that theories can be adapted or modified as a result of hypothesis testing.
 Some paranormal phenomenon continued to be explained in the same way for years despite the lack of evidence.
 E.g. Astrology:
 Has changed very little in the last 2.5 thousand years, not because it is true but as they reject any evidence they consider wrong.
 They continue to link star sign to personality despite evidence that shows it is wrong. Evasion of peer review;
 Peer review is an important method of quality control in science.
 Used to identify errors, flaws and frauds in research methods and data.
 Pseudoscience, they may ignore peer reviews by publishing books, magazines and internet articles.
 Research is not evaluated using scientific standards.
 Not all paranormal research avoids peer reviews.
 Many parapsychologists publish in parapsychology journals which follow the same scrutiny as other academic journals. Control and Replication;
 Scientific research is carried out in a highly controlled environment, eliminating EV allowing statements about cause and effect (C&E) to be made.
 Control allows a study to be replicated.
 Many claims in paranormal psychology are based on sketchy/unreliable evidence which cannot be tested for validity.
 Psychic phenomenon's such as ghosts cannot be tested under controlled conditions.
 Paranormal research is also accused of having methodological weaknesses, making it more prone to fraud and experimenter effects.
 E.g. Uri Geller:
 Famous for bending metal objects with his mind.
 James Randi, a fellow magician showed him up for being a fraud by switching the metal objects that he was supposed to use.
 Offered $1 million to anyone who could demonstrate their psychic powers under controlled conditions.
 Nobody has claimed it yet.
 Methods such as the Ganzfeld Technique in ESP, are very controlled. Issues with replication the results using the same method though. Occam's Razor;

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Monk that stated that any theory should make as few assumptions as possible. Idea was that the simplest explanation which can account for all the facts is the best. One way to identify a pseudoscience is that it offers complex explanations when a simpler one would be better. E.g. Loch Ness Monster (LNM)
 Cryptozoologists study the existence of strange creatures.
 Argue that LNM, a prehistoric monster, lies at the bottom of the loch cave.
 Can't be detected by infra-red cameras as it is so deep.
 Simpler explanation is that it is just a misperception of an ordinary object or just simply fraud.
 Above theory not widely accepted yet, explained by Occam's 'principle of limited imagination' - just because something can be explained it doesn't mean it is correct.
- against reductionism.

Strengths: o Paranormal psychology has been accepted as a scientific society.
 1969, recognised by The American Association for the Advancement of Science (largest society of science globally).
 Accepted as an affiliate society.
 Annual conferences to present their findings to other academies for scrutiny. o Evidence was presented by Mousseau, 2003, comparing the content of mainstream scientific journals with parapsychology journals. o Study: Mousseau 2003 o Findings suggested that parapsychology does not over-rely on anecdotal evidence and that many studies use experimental methods and reports empirical data. o Parapsychology does not suppress unfavourable results that may disconfirm their hypothesis. o Concluded that parapsychology meets the criteria for science better than it does for psychology. Parapsychology

Mainstream Psychology

Empirical Data

43%

54%

Used Experimental Method

24%

57%

Falsified an Idea

19%

0%

Cited their own and previous work

12%

0%

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Weaknesses: o File Drawer Problem;
 Accused of selectively publishing studies with only positive results.
 Positive reporting is not selectively restricted to parapsychology as shown in Mousseau's findings.
 Parapsychological Association have a policy against selectively reporting only positive results. o Issue with Falsification;
 Many explanations cannot be falsified.
 May be an unfair criticism.
 Many scientific theories such as the Super String Theory in physics cannot be empirically tested and yet scientists believe it exists.
 Suggests that the falsifiability principle may not be a good bench mark t distinguish science from pseudoscience. Does it matter if it is actually a pseudoscience?
o Claims not based on evidence can be made about having psychic abilities. o A lot of money is made out of it. o E.g. Sally Morgan
 Psychic with own website offering telephone readings.
 £1.50/minute or £29,99/20 minutes, with one of her handpicked psychics.
 Can receive a text for £1.50. o Reason for concern is that there isn't much evidence for psychic healing being effective. The most likely reason for success is the placebo effect. o Creates a danger of people forgoing traditional medicine for psychic healing.  Can make them more ill and cause them to die. o Society should be encouraged to ask for evidence rather than rely on superstitions in the past and present which in the past has led to the persecution of certain groups.

Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP)

Extra-Sensory Perception: The ability to acquire information without our known sense. Three main types: o Telepathy; The communication of thoughts from one mind to another mind. o Clairvoyance; Knowledge of events, people and objects is gained without the use of senses. o Precognition; Seeing into the future. Ganzfeld Technique o Experiment to test telepathy. o Devised by Charles Hornoton et al, 1974. o Based on the rationale that ESP signals are very weak and are usually drowned out by information from our other senses.

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Participants are placed in sensory deprivation to give the opportunity for ESP signals to be perceived. o Sensory Leakage: When information is transmitted through the normal human senses, e.g. talking, listening, picking up subtle cues or cheating. o Method:
 Two participants, sender and receiver, placed in separate soundproof rooms to prevent sensory leakage.
 Receiver sits on a bed or reclining chair wearing headphones with white noise playing and with half a ping pong ball taped over each eye and red light shone through. - The eye and ear coverings are to prevent visual and audio interferences.
 Sender randomly chooses one image from a selection and attempts to mentally communicate this image to the receiver.
 Receiver continuously describes out loud their thoughts which are recorded by the experimenter via an audio link in another room.
 To avoid bias, the experimenter does not know what the original picture shown was.
 At the end, there is a judging process where the receiver is presented with four pictures (1 correct, 3 decoys).
 Receiver judges which one closely matches the image he described under the Ganzfeld period.
 In order to say that they have ESP, they must be correct more than 25% of the time, otherwise they were correct just by chance. Less than half of the 28 studies conducted by Honorton yielded statistically significant results. Means findings were unreliable. Many psychologists were unhappy about the over reliance on statistical significance and have turned to meta-analysis, looking at data trends. o


















Studies using the Ganzfeld Technique Study: Charles Honorton 1985 Meta-analysis of 28 studies (835 sessions). Success rate of 38%. Supports ESP. Study: Radin et al 2006 88 Ganzfeld experiments between 1974-2004.

32.1% success rate. Supports ESP. Study: Ray Hyman 1985 Meta-analysis on the same data. Claimed findings were not significant. Argued that there were methodological flaws in the experiments. Methodological Issues with the Ganzfeld Technique Researcher Bias; Wooffitt, 2007 found that sceptical researchers did not encourage elaboration of images - led to fewer positive results than believers.

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Could be due to jealous phenomena (shyness effect) which disappears in the presence of non-believers and is only present for believers. Biased Analysis; Researchers beliefs may affect how they analyse the data. Some researchers may use various statistic until they get a positive result. o Over reliant on statistical significance. o Honorton re-analysed the data taking into account Hyman's objections and still got significant results. o 23/28 got a positive result, which has a chance of 1/1000 suggesting high reliability. File Drawer Effect; Studies with negative results do not get published and are not included in meta-analyses. Researchers beliefs may effect what is included and what is left out. Fraudulent Data; Data which is fraudulent may be included in the metaanalysis. o Carl Sargent, 1987, was doing the Ganzfeld procedure (investigative) and Susan Blackmore visited his laboratory and noticed suspicious behaviour, claiming he didn't follow the procedure accurately. o He was accused of not properly randomising the pictures and prompting the receiver when choosing an image. o Sargent defended himself but then resigned, suggesting he was guilty. o Sargent's findings are however still included in meta-analyses. Randomisation Flaws; Hyman found early studies used inadequate randomisation, e.g. hand shuffling cards. Participants may choose in a nonrandom way, such as a bias to select the first or last image or to avoid repetition. Lack of Control; Poor sound proofing allows for sensory leakage. o Autogazfeld technique was developed to deal with this issue. o Procedure is controlled by a computer which is soundproofed and electromagnetically shielded - tightening up the procedure. o Findings tend to be inconsistent when conditions are highly controlled. o













Studies using the Autoganzfeld Technique: Study: Hornorton 1994 Meta-analysis of 10 studies between 1983 - 1989. Found that 106/329 were correct. Showing a significant hit rate of 32.2%
Study: Milton and Wiseman 1999 Meta-analysis of 30 studies between 1987 - 1997. Hit rate was 27%  not significant. Study: Bem et al 2001 Meta-analysis of 40 studies including 30 reviewed by Milton and Wiseman. Hit rate of 31.3% which is significant. 10 new studies may not have used the same standardised procedure.

Psychokinesis (PK)

Psychokinesis: Using the mind to influence physical matter without making any physical contact.

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Two types; macro-psychokinesis and micro-psychokinesis. Macro-Psychokinesis: o Macro-Psychokinesis: The effects of PK on physical matters are large enough to be clearly observed by the naked eye, e.g. levitation or bending a spoon. o Three reasons why research into macroPK is limited or controversial:
 Shy Star Performance; Shyness effect  can't do it in front of sceptics and are reluctant to do it under controlled conditions.
 Fraudulent Acts; Exposure of fraud causes questions about the acts credibility, e.g. Uri Geller.
 Issue of Reliability; Attempts to replicate macroPK research under controlled conditions have been unsuccessful, e.g. James Randi offered $1,000,000 to anyone who could support the idea of parapsychology under controlled conditions. o Case Study: Nina Kulagina 1960s - 1990s. o Russian housewife who apparently displayed an impressive range of MacroPK abilities to move objects such as a compass, a ping pong ball, pens and matches. o Case Study: Enfield Hauntings 1970s o Teenage girl appeared to be possessed by a man who had died in the house in which she lived with her family. o Various objects appeared to move in her presence, it is possible she had PK abilities. o Case Study: Uri Geller o Famous for macroPK abilities of bending spoons, keys and starting and stopping clocks and watches. o Televised his psychic abilities and became a worldwide phenomenon, became known as the 'Geller Effect'. o Methodological Issues:
 Trickery and Control;
 Kulgina's PK tests were conducted in hotel rooms and at her homes, not in a controlled environment.
 May have used trickery and fraud.
 Her PK did not come straight away and required lots of preparation time alone prior to her PK performance.
 No proof of trickery was ever found. Study: James Randi - Project Alpha Sent two magicians to an institute of physical research. Tested the magicians for two years. At the end claimed they were gifted psychics. Shows that researchers were unable to detect fraud. Outcome led to a collaboration between magicians and paranormal psychologists.
 Psi Experimenter Effect;
 When the role of experimenter is blamed for unreliable results in ESP and PK studies.
 Enthusiastic and motivated experimenters create a friendly environment as this helps to enhance the participant's psi abilities. Micro-Psychokinesis:





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