Fantasy-Prone Personality

Citing research by psychologists Sheryl C. Wilson and T.X. Barber, sceptic Philip J. Klass says that as much as 4 percent of the U.S. population has a fantasy-prone personality. That is, their fantasies or daydreams are so real that all of their senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting) are fully engaged during the event in question. Such people, therefore, experience their fantasies as though they are real. Individuals who claim to have been abducted by aliens, says Klass, fit into this category. Their stories of being taken into a spaceship, experimented upon, and then released are rich with details about what they saw and experienced on the ship.

Abduction researcher David M. Jacobs believes that fantasies cannot be as rich in detail as a real experience, and that extremely detailed recollections must be of real events. Jacobs also argues that abduction stories could not be recountings of fantasies because they include experiences such as medical experiments, which nobody would want to have. Jacobs also points out that there is no evidence that abductees are more prone to fantasies than any other people.

Another abduction researcher, Kenneth Ring, agrees with Jacobs that abductees are no more likely to fantasize than anyone else. But Ring notes that abductees do share certain psychological traits, and that these traits are similar to those displayed by people who are prone to have mystical or visionary experiences. Consequently, he has theorized that abductees have encounter-prone personalities, whereby they are more likely to encounter something strange. By Ring’s definition, people with an encounter-prone personality tend to accept the possibility that the world is not always as it seems, are interested in alternative explanations for reality, and are certain that unusual things can happen. Ring also theorizes that such people have heightened senses that allow them to perceive things that ordinary people would miss.


  • David M.Jacobs
  • Philip J.Klass
  • Kenneth Ring


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning