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What Is an Extrasensory Perception Test?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

An extrasensory perception test is some sort of challenge devised to determine whether or not someone has any extrasensory capabilities. There are many different kinds of tests like this devised for various purposes, including everything from tests where people try to guess symbols on cards, to tests where people attempt to read the minds of others. Sometimes these tests are really just games that people play for amusement, but in some cases, they are used for real scientific purposes in experiments. According to experts, the results of scientific studies of psychic abilities haven’t always been especially compelling, but there have been a few results that have surprised researchers, generating a mix of interest, controversy, and skepticism.

Some of the most commonly used extrasensory perception test methods examine a person’s ability to guess the symbols on the backs of cards. Zener cards are generally the most popular type used for these kinds of studies, and they have various symbols on them which are specifically made for use in testing a person’s psychic abilities. The symbols on the backs of Zener cards are based around basic shapes and patterns because researchers hoped that it would make them easier for the test subject to envision. Sometimes Zener cards are used to test a person’s ability to send psychic images to another, and sometimes they are used to test an individual’s ability to perceive beyond the normal human senses.

Scientists have been trying to prove or disprove extrasensory perception in psychics for decades.
Scientists have been trying to prove or disprove extrasensory perception in psychics for decades.

There are many other kinds of extrasensory perception test methods that have been used over the years. For example, a person might be asked to guess what image is on the other side of a piece of paper, or one person may watch a video in another location while the test subject attempts to describe the video. Sometimes people are asked to make guesses about the contents of a sealed container, or describe what's going on in a distant location based on a set of map coordinates.

In some cases, an extrasensory test can be mainly for fun. For example, there have been many Internet sites created primarily for novelty where people can go test their extrasensory perception capabilities. Some of these sites are set up with specialized Zener card tests and sometimes the methodology behind the testing may be scientifically legitimate, but sometimes they aren’t really geared towards actual research.

Over the years, there have been quite a few real research experiments where scientists have attempted to prove or disprove extrasensory perception. The results have been mixed, with most of the more impressive results generating a lot of skepticism about the methodology used. One of the more respected studies was conducted over several years and published in 2010 by a well-known psychologist and researcher from Cornell University named Daryl Bem. He found significant statistical evidence for extrasensory capabilities over a large number of results using a number of different extrasensory perception test methods. While many respected experts have acknowledged that the results are significant from a statistical standpoint, there are certain skeptics who believe that it might be better to view this as a flaw in statistical methodology rather than proof of extrasensory perception.

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Discussion Comments


I think extrasensory perception exists too. But I'd like to think of it as intuition. Intuition has been cited as a factor affecting perception by many psychologists and psychiatrists already.


@bear78-- What about the studies of J.B. Rhine, the developers of the Zener cards. They did a series of tests, with these cards, with dice, etc. And he found that people were better at guessing the cards or the dice, than chance would allow for.

If nothing else, I think that these preliminary studies show that extrasensory perception exists and may play a part in our perception.

There is still not a perfect test that can confirm for sure whether someone has extrasensory perception. They do mostly hint at it but I still think that this is important. And I do expect for there to be a successful test developed for this soon.


There seems to be consensus among scientists that Darly Bem's research on extrasensory perception was flawed. In fact, another scientist repeated his study and did not find any evidence for extrasensory perception from the results.

So as of 2014, there appears to be no evidence that such a perception exists. I personally don't believe that this perception exists. Those games that people utilize and individuals who claim to have psychic abilities attain their information through other ways. It's really all a trick.

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    • Scientists have been trying to prove or disprove extrasensory perception in psychics for decades.
      By: tomas del amo
      Scientists have been trying to prove or disprove extrasensory perception in psychics for decades.