Psi Performance as a Function of Demographic and Personality Factors in Smartphone-Based Tests

June 8, 2022
Science Team

The question is no longer if psi exists – but rather how these phenomena work. In this new study, IONS Fellow Julia Mossbridge and IONS Chief Scientist Dean Radin investigated the role of gender, personality factors, and self-reported psi beliefs in performance scores on psi tasks. 

Are there any relationships among these factors? If so, what do they suggest?

Mobile phone games to test psi 

Psi effects, when tested using forced-choice rather than free-response methods,tend to be subtle. So in these cases, it’s useful to gather a lot of data to be able to detect the “signal” from the “noise.” Conducting these experiments on a smartphone app allowed Mossbridge and Radin to obtain data from more than 2000 participants.

The app came with three games, testing for micro-psychokinesis (ability to mentally influence a random number generator, RNG) and precognition (ability to predict future events). Participants were free to play as few or as many times as they liked for the duration of the data collection part of the study. 

Total number of plays (from 2017-2020): 995,995 trials contributed by 2,613 logins.

What the researchers expected…

The objective was to explore possible correlations between psi performance and factors like gender and psi beliefs.

The hypothesis was that psi performance would be opposite to participant expectations – so if someone expected to perform well, they would get results below average. Gender and psi beliefs were also expected to influence the results.

…was partly confirmed!

The results suggested a significant expectation-opposing effect. Apparent internal pressure to perform well translated into below-average results. This held true for all three tasks. 

Performance was related to psi beliefs in all three tasks. Psi beliefs were reported to be stronger in people who identify themselves as female, have greater confidence in their psi abilities, are older, and are more likely to go with what’s requested of them. 

Interestingly, a previous study (Walsh & Moddel, 2007) has shown that if psi beliefs are altered, so are results on psi performance tasks. It looks like the saying “you have to believe it to see it” is valid in this case.

In two out of three games, there were complex correlations between gender and results, and in the micro-psychokinesis game, age was correlated with better performance. Among the personality traits, extraversion showed a positive correlation with psi performance, which has also been shown in previous studies, and openness and neuroticism also affected performance.

Gender differences 

An interesting observation was that men had similar scores in the three games – if they did well in one game, they tended to do well in the other two as well. Women, on the other hand, showed a larger discrepancy. This suggests that men access psi capabilities through a similar neural strategy regardless of the psi task, while for women, strategy was task-dependent. Further research could help to better understand these differences.

Why learn more about psi?

The more we know about our full human capacities – beyond the materialistic worldview – the better we can develop more efficient ways of making personal decisions, enhancing health and healing, and possibly to also allow for collective consciousness to expand. This study has helped to elucidate how factors like gender and psi belief affect psi performance, which can in turn help steer the direction for further  experiments that will investigate these mechanisms in more detail. 

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