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2019 Vol. 83(2) 168-192

Etzel Cardeña, Ph.D.
Parapsychology Press


Houran, J., Lange, R., Laythe, B., O’Keeffe, C., Dagnall, N.,  Drinkwater, K., and O’Keeffe, C. (2019). Quantifying the Phenomenology  of Ghostly Episodes: II – A Rasch Model of Spontaneous Accounts. Journal of Parapsychology, 83, 168-192.


Quantifying the Phenomenology of Ghostly Episodes:
Part II – A Rasch Model of Spontaneous Accounts

James Houran           Rense Lange          Brian Laythe         Neil Dagnall         Kenneth Drinkwater           Ciaran O’Keeffe

Instituto Politécnico de Gestão e Tecnologia, Ivy Tech Community College, Buckinghamshire New University, and Manchester Metropolitan University

Using a sample of self-reported “spontaneous” accounts  (ostensibly sincere and unprimed, N = 426), we calibrated a 32-item,  Rasch-based “Survey of Strange Events (SSE)” to quantify the  phenomenology of ghostly episodes while assessing response biases  related to experients’ age and gender. This inventory included  psychological experiences typical of haunts, and physical manifestations  common to poltergeist-like disturbances. Results supported earlier  suggestions that “spontaneous” accounts have a predictable (cumulative)  behavioral pattern and show a unidimensional factor structure. Further,  compared to spontaneous accounts, we identified strong response biases  on the SSE across four control conditions (i.e., Lifestyle, Primed,  Fantasy, and Illicit). Statistical modeling successfully predicted group  memberships with good accuracy, corroborating that spontaneous  experiences differ systematically in certain ways from “impostors.” The  SSE is a robust measure of overall intensity of ghostly episodes (Rasch  reliability = 0.87) and serves as a standard operationalization of  specific anomalies in surveys, fieldwork studies, and investigations  that code free-response data or spontaneous case material for  quantitative analysis.
Keywords: ghost, haunt, phenomenology, poltergeist, psychometrics, Rasch scaling


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