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Chris French

Christopher French
photo of Chris French in 2011 at a Skeptics in the Pub event held by the Merseyside Skeptics Society
Chris French at a Merseyside Skeptics Society Skeptics in the Pub event in April 2011
Born Christopher Charles French
(1956-04-06) 6 April 1956
Residence Greenwich, London, England
Nationality British
Education B.A., PhD, CPsychol, FBPsS, FRSA
Alma mater Helsby County Grammar School for Boys 1967–1974
Occupation Psychologist
Employer Goldsmiths
Birkbeck College
University of London
Organization Anomalistic psychology Research Unit
Known for The Skeptic (UK) magazine
Awards Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association
Website Goldsmiths Home Page

Christopher Charles French is a British psychologist specialising in the psychology of paranormal beliefs and experiences, cognition and emotion. He is the head of the University of London's Anomalistic psychology research unit and appears regularly in the media as an expert on testing paranormal claims. [1]


  • Career 1
    • Academia 1.1
    • Science communication 1.2
  • Works 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


French is currently Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is head of their Anomalistic psychology Research Unit[2] which he founded in 2000.

On the importance of Anomalistic psychology he said in an interview on The Skeptic Zone,

The focus of his current research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences.[4] In addition to academic activities, such as conference presentations and invited talks in other departments, he frequently appears on radio and television presenting a sceptical view of paranormal claims.[4] He has been consulted as an expert on a wide range of such claims including psychic abilities,[5] recovered memory,[6] telepathy, faith healing,[7] past life regression,[8] ghosts,[9] UFO abductions,[10] out-of-body experiences,[11] astrology[12] and so on.[13]


French teaches a course entitled Psychology, Parapsychology and Pseudoscience as part of the BSc (Hons) Psychology programmes at both Goldsmiths College and Birkbeck College. He is a Chartered Psychologist and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.[2]

During his 2014 interview for the Skeptic Zone Podcast, Chris acknowledged that, as a skeptic, he believed in paranormal activities until he became more aware of the psychology behind why people believe, a point made clear to him through a book written by Professor of Psychology James Alcock:

He has authored or co-authored over 80 articles and chapters dealing with a wide variety of subjects in psychology, his work has been published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, the British Journal of Psychology and the British Journal of Clinical Psychology.[15]

In August 1996, he organised and chaired an integrated paper session on the topic of The Psychology of Paranormal and Pseudoscientific Beliefs at the XXVI International Congress of Psychology in Montreal.[16]

He also contributed to a symposium on The Psychology of Anomalous Experience at the British Science Association annual British Science Festival at the University of Birmingham in September 1996.[17]

In July 1997, he chaired a symposium on The Psychology of Paranormal Belief at the Fifth European Congress of Psychology in Dublin. He presented a paper at a conference on Paranormal and Superstitious Beliefs: A Skeptical Examination at Manchester Metropolitan University on Friday 13, November, 1998.[18]

In February 1999, he contributed to a symposium of the —; Stone, Anna, eds. (2014). Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience. London: Palgrave MacMillan. —; Grossman, Wendy M., eds. (2010). Why Statues Weep. The Best of The Skeptic. London: The Philosophy Press. — (2004). "Parapsychology". In Kuper, Adam; Kuper, Jessica. The Social Science Encyclopedia. London: — (2004). "Skepticism". In Henry, Jane. Parapsychology. Research on Exceptional Experiences. London: Routledge. pp. 80–89. —; Santomauro, J. (2007). "Something Wicked This Way Comes. Causes and Interpretations of Sleep Paralysis". In Sala, Sergio Della. Tall Tales About the Mind and Brain. Separating Fact from Fiction. —; Wilson, Krissy (2007). "Cognitive Factors Underlying Paranormal Beliefs and Experiences". In Sala, Sergio Della. Tall Tales About the Mind and Brain. Separating Fact from Fiction. Oxford University Press. pp. 3–22. — (2009). "Anomalistic Psychology". In Cardwell, Mike; Clark, Liz; Meldrum, Claire; Wadeley, Alison. Psychology for A2 Level for AQA (A) (4th ed.). New York: — (2010). "Reflections of a (Relatively) Moderate Skeptic". In Krippner, Stanley; Friedman, Harris L. Debating Psychic Experience: Human Potential Or Human Illusion?. Santa Barbara, CA: — (2010). "Missing the point?". In Krippner, Stanley; Friedman, Harris L. Debating Psychic Experience: Human Potential Or Human Illusion?. Santa Barbara, CA: —; Beaumont, J. Graham (March 1984). "A critical review of EEG coherence studies of hemisphere function". International Journal of Psychophysiology 1 (3): 241–54.  

—; Beaumont, J. Graham (November 1987). "The reaction of psychiatric patients to computerized assessment".  

Richards, Anne; — (1991). "Effects of encoding and anxiety on implicit and explicit memory performance".  

Richards, Anne; — (1992). "An anxiety-related bias in semantic activation when processing threat/neutral homographs".  

Richards, Anne; —; Johnson, Wendy; Naparstek, Jennifer; Williams, Jane (November 1992). "Effects of mood manipulation and anxiety on performance of an emotional Stroop task".  

French, Christopher C.; Richards, Anne; Scholfield, Emma J. C. (November 1996). "Hypomania, anxiety and the emotional Stroop". British Journal of Clinical Psychology 35 (4): 617–26.  

Hadwin, Julie; Frost, Susie; —; Richards, Anne (August 1997). "Cognitive processing and trait anxiety in typically developing children: Evidence for an interpretation bias".  

Keogh, Edmund; — (March–April 2001). "Test anxiety, evaluative stress, and susceptibility to distraction from threat".  

Richards, Anne; —; Calder, Andrew J.; Webb, Ben; et al. (September 2002). "Anxiety-related bias in the classification of emotionally ambiguous facial expressions".  

Keogh, Edmund; Bond, Frank W.; —; Richards, Anne; et al. (2004). "Test anxiety, susceptibility to distraction and examination performance". Anxiety, Stress & Coping: An International Journal 17 (3): 241–52.  


  1. ^ Wignall, Alice (18 January 2005). "What it's like to work at... ...Goldsmiths College, University of London".  
  2. ^ a b "Professor Chris French". Goldsmiths College, University of London website. Department of Psychology,  
  3. ^ a b  
  4. ^ a b c "Sixteen notable figures in science and skepticism elected CSI Fellows".  
  5. ^ Matthews, Robert (8 March 2001). "Spiritualists' powers turn scientists into believers".  
    Sample, Ian (31 October 2011). "Sally Morgan rejects Halloween challenge to prove her psychic powers". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
    Gayle, Damien (1 November 2012). "Two professional mediums fail test to demonstrate their psychic powers under laboratory conditions".  
  6. ^ Storr, Will (10 December 2011). "The mystery of Carol Myers".  
  7. ^ "Chris French". Episode 184 series 2.  
  8. ^ Lawrence, Julia (3 December 2010). "Has Marilyn Monroe been reincarnated as a shop assistant called Chris? Meet the Britons who are convinced they've had bizarre past lives...". Daily Mail. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Sample, Ian (13 January 2005). "Do the dead contact us through tape recorders?". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
    "Ghosts in the machine".  
  10. ^ "Alien abduction is all in the mind says expert". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). 26 October 2005. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Rowlands, Barbara (17 November 2001). "In the dead of the night". The Observer. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Stewart, Joseph V. (1996). Astrology: What's Really in the Stars. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. p. 129.  
  13. ^ Jha, Alok (16 August 2009). "What would an alien look like?". Science Weekly. The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
    French, Chris (21 April 2011). "Haunted houses, telepathy and UFOs: Investigating the extraordinary". Liverpool  
  14. ^  
  15. ^ a b French, Christopher C. (2011), Paranormal Perception: A Critical Evaluation (PDF), Monograph 42, London:  
  16. ^ French, C.C. (convenor) (1996). "Psychology of paranormal and pseudoscientific beliefs" (Integrated Paper Session).  
  17. ^ French, Christopher C. (10 September 1996). "Parapsychology and the paranormal" (Paper presented at the British Association Annual Festival of Science). Atheism Central for Secondary Schools. Alan Urdaibay. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit: Conferences and other Presentations". Goldsmiths College, University of London website. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  19. ^ Marcus, Adam (27 October 2008). "Ghost lusters: If you want to see a specter badly enough, will you?".  
  20. ^ Waterhouse, Rosie (13 October 2008). "Weird ... or what?". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  21. ^ "Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit". Goldsmiths College, University of London website. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Jha, Alok (29 March 2009). "Sceptical thinking makes a comeback". Science Weekly. The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  23. ^ "Profile: Chris French". The Guardian. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  24. ^ "Strange But True – Season 3, Episode 11: Strange But True? Live".  
  25. ^ a b Chris French at the Internet Movie Database
  26. ^ "Australian Skeptics National Convention 2013 Speakers". Retrieved 18 January 2014. 

External links

  • Chris French's Goldsmiths Homepage
  • Chris French on Twitter
  • Student BMJ; Medicine and magic
  • Science Weekly: The paranormal, The Guardian, 28 September 2009

Selected articles








Selected book sections


Co-edited book




In November 2013, French was featured as the keynote speaker for the 2013 Australian Skeptics National Convention in Canberra.[26]

He made regular appearances on ITV's programme Haunted Homes. He also makes appearances in the Channel 4 documentary series 'Tony Robinson and the Paranormal'.[25]

 photo of Chris French presenting from podium at the World Skeptics Congress 2012 in Berlin
Chris French at the 2012 World Skeptics Congress in Berlin

In 1998, he took part in an investigation of reincarnation claims amongst the Druze people of Lebanon, broadcast as part of the To the Ends of the Earth series. This involved spending around three weeks in Lebanon with a film crew.[25]

In 1997, he was one of three sceptics sitting on a panel for a 90-minute live debate on UFOs broadcast at peak viewing time by the Strange but True? team to mark the 50th anniversary of UFOs.[24]

He has appeared on various science programmes (e.g. Equinox, ScienceNow, All in the Mind) and documentaries (e.g. Heart of the Matter, Everyman) as well as numerous discussion programmes (e.g. Esther; The Time, The Place; Kilroy; This Morning).

French is a former Editor-in-Chief of The Skeptic (UK) magazine.[21] He presided over a relaunch, in 2009, in which the magazine expanded to 40 pages and assembled an editorial advisory board, including many big names (e.g. Tim Minchin, Stephen Fry, Richard Wiseman, Simon Singh).[3] Since 2009, French has been a columnist for The Guardian newspaper exploring scepticism and anomalistic psychology.[22][23]

Science communication

In January 2010, French was elected as a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry[4]

A study, led by French and published in 2008, explored the psychology of people who believed they had been abducted by aliens.[20]

In 2004, French and colleagues conducted an experiment involving electromagnetic fields (EMF) and extremely low frequency sound waves (infrasound) phenomena that have been associated with allegedly haunted locations, the experiment did not establish a causal relationship between these phenomena and experiences of the subjects.[19]

and he has organised two symposia at major conferences (Glasgow, March 2001; London, July 2001). Royal Society of Medicine at the [15] In February 2001, he gave an invited presentation to the Institute for Cultural Research[18]

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