Developmental Correlates of Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs) in Specific States of Consciousness: A Replication Failure

By Stanford, Rex G. | The Journal of Parapsychology, June 1994 | Go to article overview

Developmental Correlates of Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs) in Specific States of Consciousness: A Replication Failure


Stanford, Rex G., The Journal of Parapsychology


Stanford (1987) reported findings that related self-reported childhood activities to the reporting of out-of-body experiences (OBEs) in specific states of consciousness. The major findings were: Reports of having had one or more OBEs while awake correlated positively and significantly with percentage of spare time during childhood that the individual had spent reading or being read to; and reports of having had one or more OBEs while falling asleep correlated positively and significantly with the amount of spare time the individual spent playing with imaginary playmates. There was also evidence that these developmental variables discriminated among the states of consciousness in terms of their ability to predict the occurrence of OBEs. The purpose of this article is to put into the published record, in very brief format, a failure to replicate these findings as a part of a study, largely devoted to another objective, that did not involve exact methodological replication.

A partial report on this subsequent study was presented at the 1989 Parapsychological Association Annual Convention (Stanford, 1990). That report, however, was devoted to an aspect of the study that allowed examination of the differential predictive validity of three hypotheses intended to explain the well-documented finding that OBE reporting correlates with lucid-dream reporting. The study reported at the convention differed in substantial ways from the one (Stanford, 1987) that produced the OBE developmental findings, but I did include in it the same questions related to childhood activities that I had used successfully in the 1987 study. In my published abstract of the lucid-dream-related OBE study (1990) I noted that I hoped to publish elsewhere a full report on the study that also would detail the findings related to its other aspects (including the childhood-activities questions).

Because I am presently preoccupied with research interests in other areas, I have no plans to publish that study as a journal paper. Nonetheless, I think it important to put on record in published form the failure to replicate the earlier findings of developmental correlates of OBE reporting. Neither of the findings of the earlier study was replicated--even as a substantial trend--despite use of a considerably larger sample of subjects. I would like to mention some of the methodological differences between the studies that might be of interest before commenting on this failure to replicate.

1. There were several possible differences in the populations sampled in the two studies. In the initial study, as contrasted with the later one, there was: (a) far more individual recruitment by the experimenter(s); (b) considerably less classroom recruitment; (c) far more use of personal friends of the experimenter as subjects; (d) no use of graduate students (but a few were in the later study); and (e) participation by a minority who were not university students (unlike the second study, where all were university students). …

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