Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Five Qualitative Research Approaches and Their Applications in parapsychology/Fuenf Qualitatve Forschungszugaenge Und Ihre Anwendungen in der parapsychologie/Cinco Enfoques De Investigacion Cualitativa Y Sus Aplicaciones a la parapsicologia/Cinq Approches De Recherche Qualitatives et Leurs Applications En Parapsychologie

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Five Qualitative Research Approaches and Their Applications in parapsychology/Fuenf Qualitatve Forschungszugaenge Und Ihre Anwendungen in der parapsychologie/Cinco Enfoques De Investigacion Cualitativa Y Sus Aplicaciones a la parapsicologia/Cinq Approches De Recherche Qualitatives et Leurs Applications En Parapsychologie

Article excerpt

Experimental approaches to parapsychology have always been considered the pinnacle of research and the primary source of scientific information for the field, but the rich tapestry of information available from people who have spontaneous psi experiences is essential to expand our knowledge of the field. From the case collections of Louisa Rhine (1961, 1967, 1975, 1981), to the in-depth studies of specific individuals (Curry, 2008; Mishlove, 2000), to the cultural explorations of the Huna (Long, 1948) and Balinese (Edge, 1996; Edge & Suryani, 2001), parapsychologists and anthropologists have been exploring human experiences of psi in an attempt to pull back the curtain and expose the inner workings of individuals, groups, and cultures that have integrated psi into their daily lives. If these explorations are to be considered scientific and viable research projects, there is a clear need for a defined and precise research methodology. Qualitative analysis techniques have advanced significantly over the past 30 years, and traditional scientific principles have been defined for the entire process of exploring human experience outside of the laboratory setting. The world of parapsychology has begun to recognize the value of qualitative analysis techniques and among other publications at least one new journal, Exceptional Experiences, was created in 2013 with the directive to explore psi utilizing qualitative methodology. This renewed attention to qualitative methodologies and explorations outside of the laboratory is providing a new perspective on psi phenomena that is often overlooked in the laboratory setting (Cardena, 2010), and very well-defined and controlled procedures, analyses, and reporting methods are being used to help to uncover the thought processes and experiences of people who produce or encounter psi phenomena.

As seen in recent issues of Qualitative Research in Psychology, Journal of Exceptional Experiences, and the Journal of Parapsychology, with a few exceptions (e.g., Wooffitt, Holt, & Allistone, 2010), the recent studies that are applying qualitative methodologies to parapsychology are utilizing a phenomenological approach to examine the nature of specific psi experiences. The phenomenological approaches in these published studies have been defined and refined in order for them to be applied more appropriately to the study of psi experiences (e.g., Coyle, 2010; Wilde & Murray, 2010), and the value of these explorations in the field can been seen, for example, in Rock, Storm, Harris, and Freidman's (2013) study of shamanic journeying and Williams, Dutton, and Burgess's (2010) exploration of energy healing experiences. As the value of qualitative studies becomes more apparent, it is essential that parapsychologists understand the true nature of qualitative approaches and the variety of approaches that are available to researchers outside of the laboratory. This introduction to qualitative methodologies will provide an overview of a few of the major types of qualitative methods that are commonly used in the field of psychology, anthropology, and sociology. In addition, it will provide insight into the scientific characteristics of the qualitative approaches to sampling, data gathering, data analysis, validation, reliability, and reporting.

No discussion of qualitative research in parapsychology would be complete without including transpersonal research methods. Though a thorough exploration of transpersonal approaches to qualitative research is beyond the scope of this paper, some of the basic principles of transpersonal methods will be presented to provide a very brief introduction to the topic. Finally, I will discuss a few potential applications of the basic qualitative approaches in the field of parapsychology.

This general introduction is not meant to be complete and comprehensive in scope, but rather it is meant to provide the foundation for understanding qualitative techniques and how they are applied based on modern scientific principles. …

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