In the first study, the experimenters showed a virtual scene of a baby with a baby carriage to two subjects. They asked the subject whether she would prefer to have a car seat, or to be stuck with a blanket or a pacifier and a bottle. She was told that the object of her choice would be shown with the word baby next to it. When the experimenters indicated, by showing a picture on screen, that the baby carriage was more likely to be found if the baby was placed in the cradle or if he or she was placed in the car seat, the subjects selected the carriage.
The experiments also involved subjects reading a pair of books and were told that either a child was read the book and did not like it or that a child liked the book and hated it. In some of the books, however, the child was read it and liked it. The subjects then selected the book they liked the least.
The authors said that previous studies had been limited because it was impossible to know what the child would think before being exposed to such a book. By showing the books to both children and to the subjects, the authors were able to “expose” the parents, who may have a sense of how the child would respond to the book.
In their follow-up research, they tested whether “mind reading” would be a factor for people who have normal intelligence. The scientists were not surprised when the subjects answered “no” when their minds were exposed to words related to the baby in the study.
“There is little evidence to suggest that people with normal intelligence can actually think about and use this knowledge as an advantage over the general population,” the authors concluded.
How does “mind reading” work?
The study authors said the process they used was similar to that used by the ancient Greeks for “mind reading.” They suggested that the Greeks used words to show the person’s mind. For example, Greek philosophers considered the mind the “second seat of sensation” [G.S. Kountakoglou, C.R. Karpatschiou, E.T. Soskinidis, “Mind reading reveals preferences of non-rational individuals with respect to a mind-repelling task,” Psychological Research, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 255–258, 1990].
In their study, the researchers compared the experience of reading “mind-repelling” words with reading the “normal” words. The authors argued that the
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