Sheep-Goat Hypothesis
A concept in parapsychology relating to the effect of belief
and attitude to success in ESP scoring. The term derives from
the pioneer researches of parapsychologist Gertrude R. Schmeidler
in 1958. She conducted experiments in which her subjects
were divided into two groups—‘‘sheep’’ and ‘‘goats.’’ The
sheep had belief in the possibility of psi, while the goats rejected
the possibility.
It was observed that, in individual and group tests, the sheep
scored higher in ESP trials than the goats, suggesting that belief
strongly influenced successful ESP. The differences in scoring
were relatively small, although statistically significant.
Many later experiments have been conducted by other parapsychologists
to test the hypothesis, and the term ‘‘sheep-goat’’
has now become commonplace in parapsychological discussions.
Sources
McConnell, R. A., and Gertrude Schmeidler. ESP and Personality
Patterns. New Haven, Conn. Yale University Press,
1958.

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