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Published: Jun.20.2016

Development of a Comprehensive Survey of Secular American Mediums
Julie Beischel
Windbridge Institute

Mediumship research at the Windbridge Institute includes a three-tiered approach to investigations of secular, American mediums. The Information, Operation, and Application research programs examine (i) the accuracy of the information mediums report; (ii) the mediums’ phenomenology, physiology, and psychology, and (iii) the potential social applications of mediumship readings, respectively. As part of the Operation research program, the current study develops and employs web-based surveys in order to gather novel data potentially identifying of unique demographic, cognitive, psychological, physiological, familial, cultural, and phenomenological characteristics of self-identifying mediums in the US. Surveys regarding anomalous experiences and beliefs have regularly been an important research methodology in parapsychology and associated psychological, sociological, etc., fields. The findings from previous survey research with mediums can only be generalized to the specific, organized, belief system- and geographically-associated populations under examination. The subset of American mediums not associated with any formal national organization and who hold no organized belief system may potentially serve as the majority in the US but have not, to our knowledge, been specifically assessed using instruments designed to gather information about their general demographics and other characteristics. The study consists of two parts. In Part 1, responses to standardized questionnaires are collected from both medium and non-medium US Internet users. Basic sociodemographic data as well as information about respondents’ major personality characteristics; psychological well-being; compassion; spiritual experiences; fear of death; and childhood abuse and trauma is collected using previously published standardized surveys. In addition, questionnaires were created to assess physical health; end-of-life and after death communication experiences; and awareness and experience of psi-related phenomena. In Part 2, the mediums who participated in Part 1 are invited to complete additional survey materials requesting specific information about their mediumistic experiences. That survey includes open-ended and forced choice elements assessing aspects of the respondents’ history, practices, and experiences. Part 2 also includes open-ended items inquiring about experiences during communication with the deceased. This text collected describing the mediums’ phenomenology in their own words will be analyzed using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) text analysis software which calculates the degree to which 80 different psychologically meaningful categories of words including positive/negative emotions, self-references, causal words, attentional focus, emotionality, social relationships including honesty and deception, and thinking styles are used in a given text. Findings from this study will elucidate potentially unique characteristics of secular American mediums not heretofore examined. The study will also provide the groundwork for more detailed hypotheses and further studies of more specific aspects of mediumship in this growing population; this may include future studies of the potential psychological, biological, and/or neurophysiological correlates of the mediumistic experience. This research is made possible by Bial Foundation Bursary 372/14.