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Cortex. 2009 May;45(5):619-29. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2007.10.011. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

The "Haunt" project: an attempt to build a "haunted" room by manipulating complex electromagnetic fields and infrasound.

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Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, London, UK.


Recent research has suggested that a number of environmental factors may be associated with a tendency for susceptible individuals to report mildly anomalous sensations typically associated with "haunted" locations, including a sense of presence, feeling dizzy, inexplicable smells, and so on. Factors that may be associated with such sensations include fluctuations in the electromagnetic field (EMF) and the presence of infrasound. A review of such work is presented, followed by the results of the "Haunt" project in which an attempt was made to construct an artificial "haunted" room by systematically varying such environmental factors. Participants (N=79) were required to spend 50 min in a specially constructed chamber, within which they were exposed to infrasound, complex EMFs, both or neither. They were informed in advance that during this period they might experience anomalous sensations and asked to record on a floor plan their location at the time of occurrence of any such sensations, along with a note of the time of occurrence and a brief description of the sensation. Upon completing the session in the experimental chamber, they were asked to complete three questionnaires. The first was an EXIT scale asking respondents to indicate whether or not they had experienced particular anomalous sensations. The second was the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale, a widely used measure of belief in and experience of the paranormal. The third was Persinger's Personal Philosophy Inventory, although only the items that constitute the Temporal Lobe Signs (TLS) Inventory sub-scale were scored. These items deal with psychological experiences typically associated with temporal lobe epilepsy but normally distributed throughout the general population. Although many participants reported anomalous sensations of various kinds, the number reported was unrelated to experimental condition but was related to TLS scores. The most parsimonious explanation for our findings is in terms of suggestibility.

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