Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Here is a new study of synesthesia in relation to many other experiences such as schizotypy, well-being, and psychic phenomena:

Simmonds-Moore, C. A., Alvarado, C. S., & Zingrone, N. L. (2018, September 17). A Survey
Exploring Synesthetic Experiences: Exceptional Experiences, Schizotypy, and Psychological Well-Being. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice. Advance online publication.

Christine Simmonds-Moore 2

Christine Simmonds-Moore


We used an online survey to investigate the relations among synesthesia, schizotypy, exceptional experiences (ExEs), and well-being. Participants (N 1,628 [listwise N 767]; male 619, female 1,064) completed a Synesthesia Experience Questionnaire (SEQ), a general question about synesthetic experiences (Hartmann, 1991), the Anomalous Experience Subscale (AES) of the Anomalous Experience Inventory (Gallagher, Kumar, & Pekala, 1994), questions about parapsychological experiences, a multidimensional measure of schizotypy (Oxford-Liverpool Inventory for Feelings and Experiences Short [O-LIFE Short]; Mason, Linney, & Claridge, 2005), and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985). Cronbach’s alphas for these measures ranged from .63 to .90 in our data set. Approximately half (54.4%) of the sample reported 1 or more synesthetic experiences, although the rate was much lower for synesthesias experienced on a consistent basis (3.1%). The SEQ was highly internally reliable and correlated positively with the AES, number of parapsychological experiences, and unusual experiences, and negatively with introvertive anhedonia. The SEQ was not directly related to the SWLS. Unusual experiences and synesthesia were the strongest predictors of the AES and parapsychological experiences in multiple regression models. A cluster analysis of schizotypy found 4 clusters of schizotypy, including 1 cluster reflecting healthy schizotypy, 1 reflecting high schizotypy, 1 reflecting low schizotypy, and 1 reflecting negative schizotypy. We compared clusters in terms of the SWLS, ExEs, and the SEQ and found significant differences for all variables and higher scores for healthy compared with high schizotypy on all variables. We discuss the complex relations among synesthesia, schizotypy, and well-being.

The authors stated in the conclusion: “We documented a high rate of synesthesia, depending on how we defined synesthesia. When synesthesia was judged present when it occurs “at least once,” 54.3% of participants reported synesthesia. Because the question refers to a general description of synesthetic tendencies, it may be subject to interpretation. However, because it is possible to have a “one off” experience, our finding implies that a complete account of synesthesias should not be restricted to a definition based entirely on a consistent response to an inducing stimulus.”

“We found support for a not-uncommon tendency to experience synesthetic phenomena, and we replicated findings that some experiences of synesthesia are more common than others. We also determined that synesthesia shares variance with positive schizotypy (unusual experiences) and with ExEs [exceptional experiences], when defined broadly, and traditional parapsychological experiences. Regression analyses supported the potential contributing roles of both unusual experiences and synesthesia in the etiology of ExEs.”