Developing an Open-Sourced Database of Images for Psi Research and Beyond

Damon Abraham (1), Julia Mossbridge (2), Cédric Cannard (3) & Helané Wahbeh (3)

(1) Independent Researcher, Seattle, WA, USA

(2) The Institute for Love and Time, Sebastopol, CA, USA

(3) The Institute of Noetic Sciences, Petaluma, CA, USA

It is not always clear what makes an ideal (or poor) target image for use in experimental research and applications. For instance, many have speculated that beyond the image’s contents or specific objects represented, certain psychologically meaningful subjective dimensions, such as its interestingness, numinosity, or emotionality, etc., may be predictive of remote viewing (RV) success or could explain some instances of displacement effects. Yet, aside from anecdote and speculation, the systematic empirical validation of these dimensions has been somewhat limited.

In collaboration with researchers from The Institute for Love and Time (TILT) and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), we are developing an open-sourced database of images for use in parapsychological and traditional psychological research. Our aim is to generate normative ratings for approximately 3000 unique images across 18 subjective dimensions (classes), which will facilitate a deeper understanding of these idiosyncratic nuances and their potential impact on RV success and psychological processes.

The 18 classes include Abstractness, Animacy, Awe, Conceptual Complexity, Embodiment, Emotional Valence, Emotional Intensity, Interestingness, Likelihood (Hypothetical Distance), Movement, Natural, Numinosity, Visual Perspective, Physical Distance, Sensory, Social, Temporal Distance, and Visual Complexity. The selection of these classes was informed by a comprehensive review of existing literature and consultations with domain experts, ensuring a robust and relevant range of attributes.

Subjective ratings are collected from a diverse participant pool, comprising university undergraduate students, community volunteers, and paid Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) workers. Using a sliding numerical scale, participants rate 80 images chosen from the database. High and low values on this scale represent stronger or weaker endorsements of the particular attribute under assessment. The 18 categories are split into three distinct sets of six classes, using a counterbalanced order design, and participants make 6 unique ratings for each image. To ensure the reliability of the ratings, multiple participants provide ratings for the same image.

The first phase of this project will yield the normative mean ratings and distribution characteristics of the 18 classes for every image. The resulting database will enable researchers to select stimuli for their experiments based on specific subjective properties, allowing for more refined and targeted experimental designs. Additionally, it will facilitate research to validate these dimensions as potential predictors of RV success. For instance, researchers may investigate whether RV sessions are more likely to result in a hit when the target has a higher normative numinosity rating relative to a decoy image. Furthermore, the database will serve as a valuable resource for studying the relationship between subjective dimensions and other psychological phenomena, such as memory, perception, and attention.

In this lecture, I will discuss further potential applications of the database and address some of the theoretical basis and inspiration for the project. I will also discuss implications of this work in fields beyond RV such Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Planned future directions and next phases of the project will also be considered.

Damon Abraham, Ph.D., is an independent researcher and consultant specializing in experimental psychology, emotion, and mental representation. His interests are centered at the intersection of consciousness, psi, and AI for human potential and personal growth. His explorations include non-local consciousness (OBEs, NDEs, etc.), non-local perception (RV / precognition), and non-local influence (RNGs, micro & macro-PK effects, etc.). Damon has presented at various conferences, including IRVA, IANDS, and the SSE, and is an active member of the SSE and the PA. Currently, he is helping to develop the Entangled Consciousness app and serves on the board of Consciousness Hacking Colorado.

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Published on February 18, 2024