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Charles Honorton and Diane C. Ferrari

J. of Parapsychology, 53 (1989), pp.281-308.

We report a meta-analysis of forced-choice precognition experiments published in the English-language parapsychological literature between 1935 and 1987. These studies involve attempts by subjects to predict the identity of target stimuli selected randomly over intervals ranging from several hundred milliseconds to one year following the subjects' responses. We retrieved 309 studies reported by 62 investigators. Nearly two million individual trials were contributed by more than 50,000 subjects. Study outcomes are assessed by overall level of statistical significance and effect size. There is a small, but reliable overall effect (z = 11.41, p = 6.3 x 10-25). Thirty percent of the studies (by 40 investigators) are significant at the 5% significance level. Assessment of vulnerability to selective reporting indicates that a ratio of 46 unreported studies averaging null results would be required for each reported study in order to reduce the overall result to nonsignificance. No systematic relationship was found between study outcomes and eight indices of research quality. Effect size has remained essentially constant over the survey period, whereas research quality has improved substantially. Four moderating variables appear to covary significantly with study outcome: Studies using subjects selected on the basis of prior testing performance show significantly larger effects than studies using unselected subjects. Subjects tested individually by an experimenter show significantly larger effects than those tested in groups. Studies in which subjects are given trial-by-trial or run-score feedback have significantly larger effects than those with delayed or no subject feedback. Studies with brief intervals between subjects' responses and target generation show significantly stronger effects than studies involving longer intervals. The combined impact of these moderating variables appears to be very strong. Independently significant outcomes are observed in seven of the eight studies using selected subjects, who were tested individually and received trial-by-trial feedback.