Writing down activity while on an investigation and Psychology and Psychology explaining the paranormal

Psychological reasons for writing everything down as it happens as the mind and /or brain tends to forget some information and may change information that is stored in the brain, so any event remembered after a period of time can be distorted and cannot be classed as reliable and would be classed as a false memory.  Another reason, if people are discussing what happened and it slightly differs to your account of what happened, the brain might put both accounts together, which would result in a distorted account based on different perceptions of what happened (see Perception and the paranormal).

Suggestions to help eliminate psychological effects, which may distort what is perceived: write everything down, even things you can explain as this can help at a later date, such as when typing the report or if you go back to the same location again.

Write down where the activity happened i.e. what room and location in the room, e.g. NW corner, right middle side of 3rd window on wall on the left as coming in via the main door, middle of room etc, are a few examples.  This can help when writing the report if someone else has the same or similar activity in the same area and it will also help if you go back to the same location again and get the same or similar activity.

Write the time down of anything that happens.  All of the above could confirm what someone else felt, sensed or heard on the night, remembering that it is better not to discuss these things on an investigation (only some situations) and therefore someone else in the group could confirm what you felt or sensed or heard without the power of suggestion.  You can then compare reports from investigations at the same location at different times.

If a team split up into groups and then meet to swap locations, do not discuss what has happened.  This becomes very interesting when you have similar activities experienced by each group in one location at different times, this also rules out the power of suggestion.

A good psychology test when noises are heard is to get everyone to write down without discussing the sound of the noise and where it was heard.  Another time, you could get everyone to write down the sound of the noise heard and ask everyone where the noise coming from.  This can become interesting when everything is written down without discussion and when discussed.  Sometimes the power of suggestion can pay a part when discussing where the noise is coming from.  The same process could be used when something is seen, with a written description of what was seen and where.

Psychology explaining the paranormal

 When a group of paranormal investigators experiences the same things, it is usually put down to mass hysteria.

Mass hysteria is the phenomenon of the manifestations of the same or similar hysterical symptoms by more than one person.  It typically begins when an individual, followed by others in the group seeing / feeling / sensing the same thing. American paranormal and UFO researcher Jerome Clark argues that mass hysteria is often a flimsy post hoc (see below) explanation in cases where authorities or experts can find no explanation for puzzling or frightening events.

Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because temporal sequence appears to be integral to causality. The misconception lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection.  Many superstitious beliefs and magical thinking arise from this misconception.

Hysterical contagion occurs when groups of people show signs of a physical problem or illness, when in reality there are psychological and social forces at work.  This is the copycat effect of imitative behaviour based on the power of suggestion. This could be another part of hysteria and could suggest why paranormal investigators feel the same thing at the same time, i.e. feeling sick and headaches.

False Memories, Bartlett’s studies of remembering, are arguably the first concerted attempt to look at the memory-illusion phenomena. In one experiment, he asked a group of students to a folktale and recalls its details at various time intervals. As well as errors of omission, he found numerous errors with the participants adapting or adding to the story to make it more rational or consistent.  Theorists such as Bransford and Franks noted the significance of personal beliefs and desires or more technically scripts and schemas, in memory retrieval.  This would suggest if you remembered something happening whilst on an investigation, you might adapt the memory of what actually did happen according to your belief system.  This can also apply to non-believers of paranormal activity; they would later rationalise what happened to nothing happening.

If everything was written down and not discussed, the notes could show that people who have had the same experiences would unlikely be due to hysteria and would stop the memory from adapting or adding to what actually happened.

One response to “Writing down activity while on an investigation and Psychology and Psychology explaining the paranormal

  1. Pingback: The Norwich house that’s so haunted even paranormal investigators won’t go inside- part 2, the reply | Tracy Monger a paranormal investigator·

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