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Exploring gaslighting effects via the VAPUS model for ghost narratives

Drinkwater, Kenneth ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4015-0578, Dagnall, Neil ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0657-7604, Laythe, Brian, Houran, James, O'Keefe, Ciaran and Hill, Sharon (2019) Exploring gaslighting effects via the VAPUS model for ghost narratives. Australian Journal of Parapsychology, 19 (2). pp. 143-179. ISSN 0813-2194

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Abstract

The VAPUS model (Hill et al., 2018, 2019) characterizes the powerful “brand personality” of ghost narratives in terms of their Versatility, Adaptability, Participatory Nature, Universality, and Scalability. This suggests that these narratives act as cultural memes that partly reflect interpersonal or group dynamics. We use these themes in a review and conceptual synthesis of key literature to address the phenomenon of “gaslighting,” which denotes the determined efforts of an influencer to alter the perceptions of a targeted individual. Modelling ghost narratives as psychosocial constructions implies malleability via attitudinal and normative influences. Accordingly, we specify and discuss two apparent manifestations of this narrative plasticity, i.e., “positive (reinforcing) gaslighting” (i.e., confirmation biases) or “negative (rejecting) gaslighting” (i.e., second-guessing or self-doubt). These ideas clarify some Trickster-type effects and imply that all ghost narratives likely involve gaslighting to an extent.

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