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

For years the ganzfeld ESP experiments have been an important area of research in parapsychology (for information about these studies click here). Thanks to the editorial efforts of Etzel Cardeña, the topic is featured in over half of the current issue of the Journal of Parapsychology (2020, Vol. 84, No. 1).

Ganzfeld 4

Ganzfeld setting

Cardeña has arranged for several reports of ganzfeld research to appear together, showing this approach to ESP testing still has much to offer. In his editorial “Pieces of the Psi Puzzle and a Recipe for Ganzfeld Success” (pp. 5-7) he states: “The bottom line is that not only is ganzfeld research alive and well, but overall the studies in this issue support the conclusions of previous meta-analyses . . . in one case with a prospective, preregistered, and very well-designed study. This is a good answer to those who think that psi results are just the product of ‘questionable research practices.’ ”

Etzel Cardena 5

Etzel Cardeña

The next contribution, by Rex G. Stanford, is an invited editorial entitled “Ganzfeld-ESP: Pondering Three Reports and Looking Ahead.” He discusses various methodological issues such as misconceptions about the effectiveness of counterbalancing, the use of between- or within- subject designs, method-driven artifacts in the study of traits as predictors, and the importance of interviews at the end of the session.

Rex G. Stanford

Rex G. Stanford

Stanford writes: “It can be easy to forget that the use of subjective, self-report measures—whether of traits or states—can necessitate extensive introspection that often may require attribution (i.e., interpreting experiences as meriting a construct label, such as ‘altered state,’ ‘absorption,’ or whatever). Such introspection and its reporting are subject to the vagaries of memory, social desirability/undesirability of particular response(s), and experiment-related demand characteristics (relative to understood or supposed investigator expectations).”

This is followed by three experimental reports by various authors:

Testing Precognition and Alterations of Consciousness with Selected Participants in the Ganzfeld

Caroline Watt, Emily Dawson, Alisdair Tullo, Abby Pooley, and Holly Rice

University of Edinburgh

Caroline Watt 2

Caroline Watt

Abstract: This study is the first to contribute to a registration-based prospective meta-analysis of ganzfeld Extrasensory Perception (ESP) studies. We sought to maximize the anticipated psi effect size by selecting participants for self-reported creativity, prior psi experience or belief, or practice of a mental discipline. We also employed an automated precognition design for simplicity and security, and to add to the small database of precognitive ganzfeld studies. Targets and decoys were short video clips randomly selected with replacement from a pool of 200. As well as predicting overall significant scoring on the ganzfeld precognition task, the study tested the assumption that the ganzfeld method elicits a psi-conducive altered state of consciousness, by correlating two measures of an Altered State of Consciousness (ASC) with precognition task performance. We predicted higher target similarity ratings would be associated with greater evidence of ASC during the session. Three experimenters each conducted 20 trials. Twenty-two direct hits were obtained (37% hit-rate), thus significantly supporting the planned test of the ganzfeld precognition task (exact binomial p = .03, 1-tailed). No relation was found between ASC and psi task performance, contrary to prediction. We conclude by discussing the reasons why further ganzfeld ESP research is justified.

Performance at a Precognitive Remote Viewing Task, with and without Ganzfeld Stimulation: Three Experiments

Chris A. Roe, Callum E. Cooper, Laura Hickinbotham, Andrew Hodrien, Laurrie Kirkwood, and Hannah Martin

University of Northampton

Chris Roe 2

Chris Roe

Abstract: Recent research by the lead author has sought to incorporate ganzfeld stimulation as part of a remote viewing protocol. An initial exploratory experiment (Roe & Flint, 2007) suggested that novice participants can successfully describe a randomly selected target location while in the ganzfeld context but did not make a direct comparison with performance in a waking state. This paper describes a series of three subsequent experiments that compared performance at a remote viewing task in a waking condition with a ganzfeld stimulation condition using a counterbalanced repeated measures design. There were only minor variations in design across the three experiments to enable combination of data in a summary analysis. In total, 110 participants produced 43 hits in the ganzfeld stimulation condition (39%), giving a highly significant positive deviation from chance expectation (sum of ranks = 225, p = .000012), whereas in the waking RV condition they achieved 30 hits (27.5%), which is marginally better than chance expectation (sum of ranks = 253, p = .034). The difference in z scores for target ratings in the two conditions approached significance (t[39] = 1.86, p = .065). In experiment 1, individual difference measures identified as predictors of psi performance were unrelated to target ratings. Participants completed Pekala’s (1991) Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI) in order to gauge their responsiveness to the ganzfeld protocol and of the 12 sub-dimensions tested, ganzfeld performance correlated significantly with greater absorption in their subjective experience, lower arousal, and less internal dialogue. In experiments 2 and 3 individual differences measure were replaced by measures of transliminality, openness to experience, and dissociative experiences, but these were unrelated to task success. Data from experiment 2 did not confirm the findings using the PCI from experiment 1, though a significant association was found with the time sense dimension. In experiment 3 no PCI dimensions correlated with task performance, a pattern that was confirmed when data were combined across all three experiments.

Changes in State of Consciousness and Psi in Ganzfeld and Hypnosis Conditions 

Etzel Cardeña and David Marcusson-Clavertz

Lund University

David Marcusson-Clavertz 2

David Marcusson-Clavertz

Abstract: In a previous experiment with participants high (Highs) and low (Lows) in hypnotizability, psi z scores had moderate to strong correlations with percipients’ belief of their success and their previous ostensible psi experiences, experiencing an Altered State of Consciousness and other alterations of consciousness during a non-psi ganzfeld session, but only among the Highs. The current pre-registered study had a larger N of only Highs, evaluated in hypnosis and hypnosis + ganzfeld procedures. Participants (N = 35) served as “receivers” in two 20 min sessions of ganzfeld or hypnosis in counterbalanced order. Both sessions used hypnosis verbalizations, but only one of them had sensory homogenization. The authors served as “sender” and “experimenter” in different buildings. As an index of experienced alterations of consciousness, participants filled out the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI) at the beginning and end of the sessions, and gave a rating of 0-100 to 4 film clips (one of them the target), from which psi z scores were derived. Overall, participants did not score better than chance and there was no difference between the conditions. However, for the ganzfeld sessions psi scores correlated moderately (r = .40, p = .02) with the PCI Altered State shift scores (ganzfeld – baseline scores). Although the overall psi rate was not significant, we found a relation between psi scoring and experiencing an Altered State in ganzfeld psi sessions.


In addition to providing information about ganzfeld ESP testing, and evidence for ESP, this issue of the journal shows what a good editor can do to assist the development of parapsychology by taking an active approach in bringing together high-quality material about specific topics. I hope that editors of other journals will follow Cardeña’s lead and take more active roles in crafting thematic journal issues. Doing so will not only improve our journals but will also help the development of the field by focusing ideas useful for further research and theoretical developments. Unfortunately, the publisher of the journal, the Rhine Research Center, has decided to terminate Cardeña’s contract as editor.