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The Sensed Presence Questionnaire (SenPQ): initial psychometric validation of a measure of the "Sensed Presence" experience

Barnby, JM; Bell, V; (2017) The Sensed Presence Questionnaire (SenPQ): initial psychometric validation of a measure of the "Sensed Presence" experience. PeerJ , 5 , Article e3149. 10.7717/peerj.3149. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The experience of ‘sensed presence’—a feeling or sense that another entity, individual or being is present despite no clear sensory or perceptual evidence—is known to occur in the general population, appears more frequently in religious or spiritual contexts, and seems to be prominent in certain psychiatric or neurological conditions and may reflect specific functions of social cognition or body-image representation systems in the brain. Previous research has relied on ad-hoc measures of the experience and no specific psychometric scale to measure the experience exists to date. METHODS: Based on phenomenological description in the literature, we created the 16-item Sensed Presence Questionnaire (SenPQ). We recruited participants from (i) a general population sample, and; (ii) a sample including specific selection for religious affiliation, to complete the SenPQ and additional measures of well-being, schizotypy, social anxiety, social imagery, and spiritual experience. We completed an analysis to test internal reliability, the ability of the SenPQ to distinguish between religious and non-religious participants, and whether the SenPQ was specifically related to positive schizotypical experiences and social imagery. A factor analysis was also conducted to examine underlying latent variables. RESULTS: The SenPQ was found to be reliable and valid, with religious participants significantly endorsing more items than non-religious participants, and the scale showing a selective relationship with construct relevant measures. Principal components analysis indicates two potential underlying factors interpreted as reflecting ‘benign’ and ‘malign’ sensed presence experiences. DISCUSSION: The SenPQ appears to be a reliable and valid measure of sensed presence experience although further validation in neurological and psychiatric conditions is warranted.

Type: Article
Title: The Sensed Presence Questionnaire (SenPQ): initial psychometric validation of a measure of the "Sensed Presence" experience
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3149
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3149
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2017 Barnby and Bell. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
Keywords: Sensed presence, Psychometric scale, Unusual experience, Religiosity, Social cognition, Schizotypy
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1574632
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