A study of psychologists' attitudes toward psi

Maurice Randolph Miles (2000)

This investigation began as an exploration of the attitudes of psychologists regarding ESP phenomena and research. Ten psychologists were interviewed. Using a semi-standardized interview protocol, responses were gathered from questions regarding a variety of general topics oriented toward ESP phenomena and research. The data were interpreted using qualitative analysis. Though initial solicitation was made to psychologists of any level of belief or skepticism with the intent to explore skeptical attitudes, all participating psychologists were determined to be "believers", and 80% were determined to be minimally familiar with ESP research. The study was then re-focused on attitudes that supported believer psychologists' lack of interest and involvement with ESP research. The findings indicated that despite participants' reported enthusiasm for ESP phenomena resulting from their own first-hand experiences or second-hand experience with credible others, and their enthusiasm for the potential impact that substantiation of ESP might have on the discipline of Psychology and clinical practice, there were three themes derived from participants' responses that portrayed limiting factors upon such enthusiasm. These factors appeared to act to reduce participants involvement with ESP research. Participants' perception of the unquantifiable nature of ESP by current scientific approaches was the strongest reported limiting factor. Secondly, the perception that ESP phenomena was linked or equated with religious and spiritual phenomena and was therefore in a perceived non-researchable domain also appeared to serve to limit involvement. Lastly, the perceived peripheral importance of the phenomena in relation to the practical demands of a professional life was reported as serving to limit involvement with the phenomena.