Ideomotor Effect

First identified in 1852 by William B. Carpenter, who was both a psychologist and a physiologist, the ideomotor effect occurs when the human brain sends messages to certain muscles in the body without letting the conscious mind know that it is doing so. As a result, a person might make small, involuntarily movements without being aware that he or she is responsible for the movements. Consequently, the ideomotor effect has been proposed as an explanation for seemingly paranormal phenomena involving slight movements. These include dowsing and Ouija board messages.


  • Dowsing
  • Ouija board


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

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