Interpreting Electronic Voice Phenomena: The role of auditory perception, paranormal belief and individual differences

Winsper, Ann Regina (2020) Interpreting Electronic Voice Phenomena: The role of auditory perception, paranormal belief and individual differences. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Electronic Voice Phenomena are anomalous voices that appear on audio recordings (Barušs, 2001) and various techniques have been suggested for obtaining these voices. People who investigate potentially paranormal, site based anomalies (ghosthunters) have in recent years been using techniques to obtain EVP voices, and declaring them as proof of the paranormal. Previous studies have examined the role of paranormal belief on various personality factors and on cognition, however individuals who use EVP as a technique (high-EVPers) have not previously been studied to ascertain if they differ from both the sceptical population (non-EVPers) and people who believe in the paranormal but who do not use EVP techniques (low-EVPers).
The current studies examined personality variable differences between non-, low and high-EVPers. A new questionnaire, the Paranormal Investigation Experience Questionnaire, proved capable of differentiating between non-, low- and high-EVPers, and displayed high reliability. From the current studies, it does not appear that EVPers can be classified as a separate group of individuals when compared with general paranormal believers when comparing personality traits. It is possible to define them as a group based on their experiences of EVP, but this separation is not found when investigating a number of individual difference measures which have been shown to be able to distinguish between general paranormal believers and non-believers. EVPers demonstrated higher levels of sleep related hallucinations, which may have implications for how they are interpreting noise as EVP voices.
There was a commonality in auditory test results between a number of personality factors, individuals high in these measures were all more likely to report hearing non-directional voices in noise, which may have implications for how EVPers are interpreting sound clips depending on how they are listening to those clips. High hallucinators reported hallucinated voices in their right ear, which supports previous research.
The results suggest that a number of factors are involved in causing misperception of voices in noise, but these results may be applicable to the general population rather than specifically to a population of EVP experiencers. Suggestions as to future research and comparison with other methods of apparent paranormal communication are discussed.

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