Westerlund & DalkvistThe Parapsychological Association Convention 2004 269
A TEST OF PREDICTIONS FROM FIVE STUDIES ONTELEPATHIC GROUP COMMUNICATION OF EMOTIONS
Joakim Westerlund, & Jan Dalkvist
Department of Psychology, Stockholm University
The purpose of the present study was to test a set of predictions from a previous series of telepathy studies,involving 337 university students. In these studies, groups of receivers were asked to discriminate betweenpositive and negative emotional slide pictures that were being looked at by groups of senders. The senders andthe receivers were sequestered in separate acoustically insulated rooms. None of the eight predictions wasconfirmed by data from a replication study, involving a total of 605 university students as participants. Discussedare three explanations denying that any telepathic communication occurred, either in the original series of experiments or in the new ones, and three explanations assuming that some telepathic communication did occur,after all. The three explanations denying the occurrence of any telepathic effect were: (1) All significant resultsobtained in the original experiments were caused by random variation. (2) The replication experiments werebetter controlled than the original experiments. (3) The original positive results were obtained through systematicselection. All of these three explanations were judged to be plausible. The three explanations assuming that sometelepathic communication did occur were: (1) Some of the eight hypotheses were only partly true and need to bemodified. (2) The distribution(s) of some critical person or situation variable(s) had changed during the six yearsof experimentation, which, in turn, has affected the results. (3) The replication experiments were run at lessfavourable times with respect to some physical factors: local sidereal time (LST) – an astronomical time and spacemeasure, which is indirectly related to the magnitude of cosmic radiation that reaches the earth – anddisturbances in the earth´s magnetic field, as measured by the ap-index. On the basis of empirical tests, the twolatter explanations (changing distributions of critical personal or situational variables and changing LST or ap-index) were rejected as unlikely. It was concluded that, taken together, the three explanations assuming that notelepathic communication had occurred could well account for the failure to confirm any of the predictions.
Since the spring of 1993, a series of telepathy studies has been performed at the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University, with one of us (JD) as initiator. The studies have all been concerned with transmission of emotions and have been carried out as group experiments.The series of studies consists of two parts, an initial part, containing five studies (Studies 1-5), whichmainly served to generate a set of hypotheses, and a second part, in which these hypotheses were tested in areplication study. The five original studies have been published elsewhere (Dalkvist & Westerlund,1998a,b). A less detailed description of these studies will be given below.The basic design of the present series of studies rests on two different ideas. One was to try to strengthen“weak” telepathic signals by using several senders instead of one. (Even if this idea should turn out to be wrong, using several participants has the practical advantage of permitting large amounts of data to becollected during a relatively short period of time.)In spite of its practical advantages, group ESP experiments are rare, however. One reason may beRhine’s (1947/1971) negative evaluation of group testing as compared to individual testing:
One of the discoveries made during these years was the great disadvantage of group testing compared toindividual tests. Vernon Sharp and Dr. C.C. Clark of New York University compared
classroom test with privatetests and found, as we did at Duke, that individual tests give much better scoring rates. In fact, the group tests were little above the average expected from pure chance…. (p. 40)
Nevertheless, quite impressive results from group experiments on ESP have been reported, most notably by Carpenter (e.g., 1988).