Communicating With Ourselves

Claire Elliott

Wednesday, March 13 2019 at 7:30PM

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Claire Elliott

What's the talk about?

Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) are the anomalous speech-like sounds found on some electronic recordings. For believers, EVP represents communication with paranormal entities and evidence of the afterlife.

For sceptics, it is a product of the recording methods and top-down processing of the listener. Whilst we all experience auditory illusions, research suggests some groups may be more susceptible than others. Claire Elliott's MSc research explored the cognitive-perceptual factors and role of suggestion in illusory speech perception (auditory pareidolia).

The debate surrounding EVP can tell us much about the human tendency to find meaning in random data (apophenia) and desire to believe. With no scientific evidence for the validity of EVP, are we merely communicating with ourselves?


Claire Elliott’s fascination with the paranormal started young, listening to her Mother’s ghost stories. She spent most of her childhood desperately wanting to see a ghost. She didn’t. Studying psychology has made her a skeptic but she stills goes ghost hunting. Her MSc masters thesis was entitled: ”Specific paranormal beliefs (haunting) and proneness to hallucinate may be implicated in illusory speech perception (auditory pareidolia)”.

She recently wrote an article for The Psychologist magazine on “Meaning in randomness” which explored the research and debate surrounding Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). She regularly gives talks and interviews on her research interests, which include auditory hallucinations, the psychology of paranormal belief, ghost hunting and cryptozoology.