Feeling the past: The absence of experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on text processing
In two self-paced reading experiments, we investigated the hypothesis that information moves backward in time to influence prior behaviors (Bem Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100:407–425, 2011a). In two of Bem’s experiments, words were presented after target pictures in a pleasantness judgment task. In a condition in which the words were consistent with the emotional valence of the picture, reaction times to the pictures were significantly shorter , as compared with a condition in which the words were inconsistent with the emotional valence of the picture. Bem Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100:407–425, (2011a) interpreted these results as showing a “retroactive priming” effect resulting from precognition. To test the precognition hypothesis, we adapted a standard repetition priming paradigm from psycholinguistics. In the experiments, participants read a set of texts. In one condition, the participants read the same text twice. In other conditions, participants read two different texts. The precognition hypothesis predicts that readers who encounter the same text twice will experience reductions in processing load during their first encounter with the text. Hence, these readers' average reading times should be shorter than those of readers who encounter the target text only once. Our results indicated that readers processed the target text faster the second time they read it. Also, their reading times decreased as their experience with the self-paced reading procedure increased. However, participants read the target text equally quickly during their initial encounter with the text, whether or not the text was subsequently repeated. Thus, the experiments demonstrated normal repetition priming and practice effects but offered no evidence for retroactive influences on text processing.
Supplementary Material (0)
- Allison, P. D. (1979). Experimental parapsychology as a rejected science. In R. Wallis (Ed.), On the margins of science: The social construction of rejected knowledge (pp. 271–291). Keele: University of Keele.
- Bargh, J. A., & Ferguson, M. J. (2000). Beyond behaviorism: On the automaticity of higher mental processes. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 925–945. CrossRef
- Bem, D. J. (2011a). Feeling the future: Experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 407–425. CrossRef
- Bem, D. J. (2011b). Must psychologists change the way they analyze their data? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 716–719. CrossRef
- Bourne, E. J. (2008). Global shift: How a new worldview is transforming humanity. Oakland: New Harbinger.
- Diaconis, P. (1978). Statistical problems in ESP research. Science, 201, 131–136. CrossRef
- Francis, G. (2012). Too good to be true: Publication bias in two prominent studies from experimental psychology. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 19, 151–156. CrossRef
- Hansel, C. E. M. (1989). The search for psychic power: ESP and parapsychology revisited. Amherst: Prometheus.
- Hyman, R. (1994). Anomaly or artifact? Comments on Bem and Honorton. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 19–24. CrossRef
- Hyman, R. (2010). Meta-analysis that conceals more than it reveals: Comment on Storm et al. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 486–490. CrossRef
- Jeffreys, H. (1961). Theory of probability (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Jones, M. D. (2009). Modern science and the paranormal. New York: Rosen Publishing Group.
- Kruschke, J. K. (2011). Bayesian assessment of null values via parameter estimation and model comparison. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 299–312. CrossRef
- LeBel, E., & Peters, K. R. (2011). Fearing the future of empirical psychology: Bem's (2011) evidence of Psi as a case study of deficiencies in modal research practice. Review of General Psychology, 15, 371–379. CrossRef
- Loftus, G. R. (1996). Psychology will be a much better science when we change the way we analyze data. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 5, 161–171. CrossRef
- Long, D. L., Oppy, B. J., & Seely, M. R. (1997). Individual differences in readers' sentence and text-level representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 36, 129–145. CrossRef
- May, E. C., Utts, J. M., & Spottiswoode, S. J. P. (1995). Decision augmentation theory: Toward a model of AMP. Journal of Parapsychology, 59, 195–220.
- Ritchie, S. J., Wiseman, R., & French, C. C. (2012). Failing the future: Three unsuccessful attempts to replicate Bem's 'Retroactive Facilitation of Recall' effect. PloS One, 7, 1–5.
- Rouder, J. N., & Morey, R. D. (2011). A Bayes factor meta-analysis of Bem's ESP claim. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 18, 682–689. CrossRef
- Rouder, J. N., Speckman, P. L., Sun, D., Morey, R. D., & Iverson, G. (2009). Bayesian t-tests for accepting and rejecting the null hypothesis. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 16, 225–237. CrossRef
- Stanovich, K. E. (1998). How to think straight about psychology. New York: Longman.
- Storm, L., & Ertel, S. (2001). Does psi exist? Comments on Milton and Wiseman's (1999) meta-analysis of ganzfeld research. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 424–433. CrossRef
- Storm, L., Tressoldi, P. E., & Di Risio, L. (2010). Meta-analysis of free-response studies, 1992-2008: Assessing the noise-reduction model in parapsychology. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 471–485. CrossRef
- Traxler, M. J. (2012). Introduction to psycholinguistics: Understanding language science. Boston: Wiley-Blackwell.
- Traxler, M. J., & Gernsbacher, M. A. (2006). The handbook of psycholinguistics (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Utts, J. (1991). Replication and meta-analysis in parapsychology. Statistical Science, 6, 363–403. CrossRef
- Wagenmakers, E. J., Wetzels, R., Borsboom, D., & van der Maas, H. L. J. (2011). Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: The case of psi: Comment on Bem (2011). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 426–432. CrossRef
- Wetzels, R., Matzke, D., Lee, M. D., Rouder, J. N., Iverson, G. J., & Wagenmakers, E. J. (2011). Statistical evidence in experimental psychology: An empirical comparison using 855t-tests. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 291–298. CrossRef
About this Article
- Feeling the past: The absence of experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on text processing
Memory & Cognition
Volume 40, Issue 8 , pp 1366-1372
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Context effects
- Discourse processing
- Language comprehension