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Br J Psychol. 2000 Feb;91 ( Pt 1):71-85.

The ability to detect unseen staring: a literature review and empirical tests.

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Psychology Academic Group, School of Social Science, Middlesex University, UK.


There is evidence to suggest that individuals not only believe in their ability to detect an unseen gaze, but may genuinely be able to do so. The present study reviewed past research and sought to determine whether such a phenomenon was empirically demonstrable. In Expt 1, 12 participants responded to 12 sequences (with feedback in the last nine) of 20 trials each, with staring or non-staring episodes based on Sheldrake's random number sequences. No effects were obtained when no feedback was given. With feedback, more accurate than mean chance expectation (MCE) results were obtained on staring, but no difference on non-staring trials. However other 'normal' explanations of ESP phenomena discuss the possibility of matching in bias between experimental sequences and participants' representations of randomness. Tests of the sequences found more alternations than expected, a feature typical of subjective randomness, but the increase in accuracy found on staring trials only was not consistent with this explanation. It was concluded that the improvement in accuracy with feedback is likely to be due to implicit learning, given the structure in non-random sequences. This hypothesis was supported in Expt 2 where 12 participants responded to 12 'genuinely random' sequences, and no differences in accuracy from MCE were obtained.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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