'It's still bending': Verbal suggestion and alleged psychokinetic ability

  • Wiseman R
  • Greening E
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Some alleged psychics appear to be able to deform metallic objects, such as keys and cutlery, by thought alone. This paper describes two studies that examined whether one aspect of these demonstrations could be created by verbal suggestion. In the first study, participants were shown a videotape in which a fake psychic placed a bent key on a table. Participants in one condition heard the fake psychic suggest that the key was continuing to bend, whilst those in the other condition did not. Participants in the suggestion condition were significantly more likely to report that the key continued to bend. These findings were replicated in the second study. In addition, participants who reported that the key continued to bend displayed a significantly higher level of confidence in their testimony than others, and were significantly less likely to recall that the fake psychic had suggested the continued bending of the key. Neither experiment revealed any differences between participants who expressed a prior belief in the paranormal compared with those who did not. The paper discusses the implications of these results for the psychology of suggestion and the assessment of eyewitness testimony for anomalous events. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

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  • Richard Wiseman

  • Emma Greening

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