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Non-ordinary experiences related to the altered sense of self: an exploratory cross-cultural comparison

Status: Ongoing (data collection finished, analysis)

Funding: Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lausanne

Abstract Texture


Alterations in the sense of self are a part of the vast array of experiences such as diminished self of self, OBE, unity with others, etc. Phenomenologically similar experiences can be interpreted in a different manner, depending on the context of the experience and individual differences. Ann Taves and colleagues propose an Inventory of Non-ordinary Experiences (INOE), which uses an innovative approach to measure frequencies of non-ordinary experiences and, separately, context and appraisal of these experiences. This distinction helps to dissociate the experience proper and its interpretation, which allows for investigating the effects of various factors on the difference in interpretation of similar experiences.

Cultural schemas represent one of the factors that can affect this appraisal process. We propose to test whether there are cultural differences in the frequency and appraisal of non-ordinary experiences related to the altered sense of self in three populations of young adults in Russia and the French-speaking part of Switzerland. In particular, our aims are (1) to compare the frequency or reported non-ordinary experiences related to an altered sense of self in two different cultures and (2) to describe the context and compare the appraisal of the reported experiences in the above-mentioned samples. 



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