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The Impact of Phenomenological Control on Altered States, Mystical Experience, Mood and Persisting Effects

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posted on 2023-08-28, 12:17 authored by Eugenie Dale

Altered states of consciousness can induce profound subjective experiences, have positive  outcomes for mood and cognition and have long-term persisting effects. However, so far  there is little research on individual difference characteristics that might influence the ways that people experience altered states. A new measure, the phenomenological control scale, quantifies the capacity of individuals’ beliefs to subtly shape their perceptual experience. As altered states appear to have potential for positive clinical outcomes and cognitive enhancement, understanding trait factors that may enhance these outcomes will be beneficial. This project examined phenomenological control and altered states across two studies. First,  phenomenological control was examined as a moderator of mystical experiences and  persisting effects in a large online study investigating multiple forms of altered states of  consciousness (spiritual experience, connection to nature, psychoactive drugs and  meditation). Second, I investigated the impact of phenomenological control on acute  measures of mood and altered state experience in a double-blind laboratory study exploring  the effects of low doses of psilocybin. Results across these studies highlight the importance  of phenomenological control in determining the quality of altered states that individuals  experience across a range of contexts.


Table of Contents

1. General Introduction -- 2. Study One – Online Survey -- 3. Study Two – Laboratory Study -- 4. General Discussion -- References -- Appendices

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes

Department, Centre or School

School of Psychological Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Vince Polito

Additional Supervisor 1

Dick Stevenson

Additional Supervisor 2

Andrew Roberts


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




82 pages

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