Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore, an Associate Professor of Psychology has been conducting a study on ghost experiences.
The subject of ghosts has always been one that fascinated Simmonds-Moore and she intends to make one appear in her lab. The study has been broken into two phases, the first being a survey and the second being a lab study.
The survey asked people about their experience and then asked if they felt it was something paranormal or if it could be explained. Simmonds-Moore then went back and read the responses. She wanted to find a pattern.
“They seem to be very located, there’s like a specific place, through doorways, walking or running,” said Simmonds-Moore.
She found a different range of experiences. One type was if someone moved into an old house that had a story behind it. This could be a person seeing a figure, hearing footsteps or feeling like there’s someone in the room with them.
“Then there’s a whole other body of ghosts that seem to be about people having beautiful, meaningful encounters with deceased loved ones.” said Simmonds-Moore.
After Simmonds-Moore read the surveys she then invited people to participate in the next part of the study, which will take place in Melson Hall. She hopes to start this phase in late October. Participants will be placed in a psychomanteum, a chamber that is used to encourage ghost experiences.
Individuals sit in a room while they listen to relaxing music. They will answer questions about the deceased one they are trying to have an experience with. All of this happens while the person sits in front of a mirror, which will be placed just above their heads.
“It’s a really ancient practice that goes back through history and different cultures,” said Simmonds-Moore.
Simmonds-Moore has always been fascinated by the idea of ghosts, even though she has never had an experience herself.
“We always went to an old house when we were kids that was in my family,” said Simmonds-Moore. “A 16th century house that always felt a bit weird, but I never saw anything.”
When she was growing up in the United Kingdom, she found herself reading books about ghosts and psychokinesis. Her and friends were also fascinated by the local ghost stories. However, for this study she wants to focus more on what the living mind can do.
“I’ve always been interested in ghosts though,” said Simmonds-Moore. “That’s probably what got me into this area when I was like 16.”
One of the things that fascinates her about ghost experiences is that they can happen to anyone.
“They are something that is very meaningful and happen to people irrespective of culture and history,” said Simmonds-Moore. “So, it’s something that’s very human and I just thought we need to look into the psychology of ghosts.”
Simmonds-Moore hopes to accomplish different things with this study, one of which is finding out who is more likely to have an experience. But her other goal is to normalize experiences,
“They seem to be more meaningful than scary,” said Simmonds-Moore. “I want to help people be able to talk about it, make it more of a normal thing.”