“Red lights”: a film for Anomalistic Psychology

A film recommendation for A2 Psychology students

I recently watched the film Red Lights (starring Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy and Robert De Niro) about a team of  investigators, from a University Psychology Department, who investigate, in order to debunk, claims of paranormal experiences. The film features portrayals of “psychics” who although fictional are highly reminiscent of several of the well-known and controversial “real life” individuals who have claimed to have supernatural abilities.

De Niro plays a man who claims to be a psychic who undergoes “controlled” testing of his abilities by the university. The “red lights” referred to in the title are the signs and signals that are the clues to discovering the non-paranormal explanation for the event. The film covers a range of biases that often occur in experiments testing anomalistic phenomenon and the controls that need to be in place in order to test such phenomenon in a scientifically rigorous manner.

Psychology in Action: Anomalistic Psychology (Unit 4, AQA A)

I would highly recommend students of A2 Psychology, who are studying Anomalistic Psychology as part of Unit 4 (AQA spec A), to watch this film. Whilst I agree with a number of reviews I read before choosing the film that the end of the film is not its finest moment, the main body of the film demonstrates lots of concepts related to the topic really quite well. Add this film to a Psychology film club schedule or simply recommend it to students then discuss the specification links and insight students might have gained.

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