Anomalous Human-Computer Interaction: Relationship to Training Expectations, Absorption, Flow, and Creativity

The primary goal of this study was to replicate and extend studies conducted at Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Laboratory, utilizing their portable Random Event Generator (REG) and experimental protocols (PORTREG) whereby operators attempt to intentionally influence the output of the REG. Another primary purpose was to examine the possible impact of expectations engendered in the training period. The secondary purposes of this study were to investigate the association of measures of absorption, flow, and vocational creativity with REG scores.

Gender effects were also investigated. Eighty adult subjects, 44 males and 36 females, contributed one experimental REG series to the database, in a tripolar protocol, with the intention to raise or lower the output of the REG (High intention and Low intention) plus the generation of a Baseline. No significant effects were found in the direction of intention (High or Low) and there were no significant gender effects.

Subjects completed the Tellegen Absorption Scale – TAS (Tellegen and Atkinson, 1974), a modified flow scale (Csikszentmihalyi, 1985; Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi , 1988), and a vocational self-report related to the Lifetime Creativity Scales (LCS) (Richards, Kinney, Benet, & Merzel, 1988). No significant relationships were found between the REG scores, expectation, absorption, flow, or the LCS. Eighteen of the 80 subjects were designated Extrachance scorers, as they achieved significant differences between their High and Low REG scores, where only four such subjects would be expected by chance alone. The Extrachance subjects had significantly different scores than non-Extrachance subjects on a two-tailed t-test for absorption, flow, and peak creativity, with levels of vocational creativity being higher in the Extrachance than non-Extrachance group, and flow and absorption lower. Hence, for the Extrachance subgroup, representing 23% of the sample, significant findings occurred involving subject influence on REG scores, as well as differences from non-Extrachance scorers on all of the vocational creativity, flow, and absorption measures.

These results fit with reports from PEAR and suggest the value of further in-depth studies of exceptional people, and of characteristics that may be relevant to the REG task. Suggestions are given for further research of the impact of human consciousness on random electronic systems.

Dissertation submitted towards the Degree of Ph.D. Psychology
Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, 2001

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