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Free-Response Readings & Portrait Tests with Mediums

In their attempts to communicate with deceased individuals, mediums have reportedly received a variety of psychic impressions. For instance, they may hear certain words, have certain feelings, or see certain images “in their mind’s eye” that seem to relate in some way to a particular deceased person. One of the images that some mediums have reported seeing while giving a reading to the person consulting them (often called the “sitter”) is the face of someone on the other side. If it were possible to make a portrait of this face based on a description given by the medium, could the sitter possibly recognize it as being their deceased loved one?


With support from the Helene Reeder Fund for Research on Life After Death, the Psychical Research Foundation is currently conducting an experimental study designed to explore this question, using an innovative approach introduced by its first research director, the late William Roll, in the early 1970s.[1]

This approach involving the application of a tool known as the Identi-Kit, which creates detailed portraits of a person’s face that are very similar to the kind that police sketch artists often create on the basis of descriptions provided by eyewitnesses. Based on the notion that “a picture speaks a thousand words,” Roll thought that the Identi-Kit might be adaptable to mediumship research to create facial portraits of deceased people, based on descriptions that mediums provide of the faces they sometimes see “in their mind’s eye.” The current study seeks to build upon Roll’s initial efforts, using a computer-based version of the Identi-Kit (see the image above).


For additional details about this study, and to find out about how you may be eligible to participate and receive a reading from a professional medium, please see our "Call for Sitters" page. (PLEASE NOTE: THIS STUDY IS NOW CLOSED)




[1] Roll, W. G. (1971). Free verbal response and Identi-Kit tests with a medium. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 65, 185 - 191.

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