This module explores extraordinary phenomena and experiences that include, but are not limited to, those that are classed as being ‘paranormal’ and are of interest to psychologists. Although considered outside of typical occurrences, in the same vein, such phenomena are not necessarily symptomatic of atypical mental, emotional or behavioural processes. The module will look at trying to understand selected anomalous phenomena and the relationships with conventional psychological theories, research and physical factors. The module will review the historic and philosophical background of the field and the influence of socio-cultural factors. A key consideration is how the field has evolved rigorous methodological remits in order to address alleged fraudulent accounts and how such occurrences are typically measured. Students will also appreciate both the proponent and the sceptical perspectives when interpreting findings. The module will distinguish between anomalistic psychology and parapsychology; research methodology and explores aspects such as mediumship; poltergeists; psi (PK, ESP); altered states; near death experiences; apparitions; probability judgements; magical thinking.
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
1. Review some of the principle areas and issues studied within the field of anomalistic and parapsychology.
2. Appreciate the empirical nature of this academic discipline.
3. Apply methodological rigour when conducting and assessing research into parapsychology.
4. Condense and disseminate research findings using a range of formats.
The module may include information on:
- Philosophical and historical background of anomalistic psychology and parapsychology
- Definitions of key terms, including anomalistic psychology and parapsychology (e.g. psi, PK, ESP)
- Relationships with existing psychological fields (e.g. neurocognitive psychology, abnormal psychology) and socio-cultural influences
- Extraordinary phenomena (e.g. mediumship, psi, apparitions) and subjective beliefs (e.g. magical thinking, probability judgements)
- Methodological approaches to research (e.g. types of measurement, rigour, statistical interpretation); alleged fraud; sceptical and proponent perspectives
- Designing and conducting an ethically sound empirical study and disseminating the findings within a poster presentation.