Mind over matter: Perceived success at psychokinesis

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Four experiments with 212 undergraduates showed that Ss' estimates of success on a psychokinetic (PK) task were independent of actual performance. In Exp I, Ss given a positive introductory set or no set about PK evidenced more illusory control than Ss given a negative set. In Exp II, both degree of general belief in psychic phenomena and the number of practice trials that Ss received influenced performance estimates, with high believers who received 10 practice trials providing the highest estimates and low believers who received 1 practice trial the lowest. In Exp III, Ss actively involved with the PK task judged their performance more positively than passively involved Ss. Exp IV showed that when they were actively involved in the task, Ss with an internal locus of control (Rotter's Internal-External Locus of Control Scale) gave higher estimates of their success than Ss with an external locus of control. When passively involved, internals and externals did not reliably differ in their estimates, but their estimates were lower in those of active/internals. Results support E. J. Langer's illusion-of-control theory and highlight the importance of general psychic belief and locus-of-control orientation in affecting perceived success at a psychic task. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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