Abstracts of Recent Bem Articles

Complete text of underlined titles are online and can be accessed directly.

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Articles on Sexual Orientation
Articles on Psi (ESP)
Articles on Personality Theory
Articles on Writing for Professional Journals

Self-Perception Theory

Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-perception theory. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, (Vol. 6, pp. 1-62). New York: Academic Press

Bem, D. J. (1967). Self-Perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena. Psychological Review, 74, 183-200. 

Bem, D. J. (1966). Inducing belief in false confessions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 707-710. 

College Ss participated in individual experimental sessions disguised as research on lie detection. After crossing out specified words on a word list, each S was trained to utter true statements in the presence of a "truth light" and false statements in the presence of a "lie light." He was then required to state aloud that he had previously crossed out certain words and had not crossed out others. ½ of these "confessions" were false, and each was made in the presence of 1 of the 2 lights. As predicted, false confessions in the truth light produced more subsequent errors of recall and less confidence in recall accuracy than either false confessions in the lie light or no confession at all.

Bandler, R., Madaras, G., & Bem, D. J. (1968). Self-observation as a source of pain perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 205-209.  

Hypothesized that an individual's perception of a stimulus as uncomfortable or painful is partially an inference from his own observation of his response to that stimulus. 12 male students observed themselves either escaping or enduring a series of electric shocks, all of the same physical intensity. as predicted, ss rated the felt discomfort produced by the shocks to be greater in the "escape" condition than in the "no-escape" condition. appropriate controls and auxiliary data helped to rule out alternative explanations of the obtained difference, and the record of ss' gsrs suggested that actual physiological arousal was not serving as the basis for the ss' discomfort ratings.

Bem, D. J., & McConnell, H. K. (1971). Testing the self-perception explanation of dissonance phenomena: On the salience of premanipulation attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 14, 23-31. 

A controversy has arisen over the "interpersonal simulations" used by Bem to support his contention that his self-perception theory accounts for cognitive dissonance phenomena. Specifically, the critics challenge the implication of his analysis that the premanipulation attitudes of subjects in dissonance experiments are not salient in their postmanipulation phenomenology. The present investigation answers this challenge by demonstrating that subjects in a typical forced-compliance experiment are not only unable to recall their premanipulation attitudes correctly, but they actually perceive their postmanipulation attitudes to be identical to their premanipulation attitudes. Accordingly, they do not perceive any attitude "change." The epistemological aspects of the interpersonal simulation methodology are also discussed.


Bem, S. L., & Bem, D. J. (1973). Does sex-biased job advertising "aid and abet" sex discrimination? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1, 6-18. pdf file.


Sexual Orientation

Bem, D. J. (1996). Exotic becomes erotic: A developmental theory of sexual orientation. Psychological Review, 103, 320-335. 

A developmental theory of erotic/romantic attraction is presented that provides the same basic account for opposite-sex and same-sex desire in both men and women. It proposes that biological variables, such as genes, prenatal hormones, and brain neuroanatomy, do not code for sexual orientation per se but for childhood temperaments that influence a child's preferences for sex-typical or sex-atypical activities and peers. These preferences lead children to feel different from opposite- or same-sex peers--to perceive them as dissimilar, unfamiliar, and exotic. This, in turn, produces heightened nonspecific autonomic arousal that subsequently gets eroticized to that same class of dissimilar peers: Exotic becomes erotic. Specific mechanisms for effecting this transformation are proposed. The theory claims to accommodate both the empirical evidence of the biological essentialists and the cultural relativism of the social constructionists.

Bem, D. J. (1998). Is EBE theory supported by the evidence? Is it androcentric? A reply to Peplau et al. Psychological Review, 108, 395-398.

In their critique of the author's Exotic-Becomes-Erotic (EBE) theory of sexual orientation (D. J. Bem, 1996), L. A. Peplau, L. D. Garnets, L. R. Spalding, T. D. Conley, and R. C. Veniegas (1998) challenge the his reading of the evidence concerning the antecedents of sexual orientation; they also contend that the theory neglects women's experiences. In reply, the author argues that L. A. Peplau et al. have misunderstood the critical antecedent variable of the theory and, hence, have misidentified the particular empirical findings that would serve to confirm or disconfirm its central contentions. The author also argues that the sex differences they cite are not relevant to the theory, whereas an important sex difference they do not cite is actually anticipated by it.

Bem, D. J. (1997, August). Exotic Becomes Erotic: Explaining the Enigma of Sexual Orientation. 

 Invited address presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Chicago. [This presentation of the theory is much shorter and more accessible than the original article, listed above. It also includes the discussion of the theory's political implications listed below.]

In this address, I outline my "Exotic-Becomes-Erotic" theory of sexual orientation (Bem, 1996), which provides the same basic account for both opposite-sex and same-sex erotic desire--and for both men and women. It proposes that biological variables do not code for sexual orientation per se but for childhood temperaments that influence a child's preferences for sex-typical or sex-atypical activities. These preferences lead children to feel different from opposite-sex or same-sex peers--to perceive them as "exotic." This, in turn, produces heightened physiological arousal that subsequently gets eroticized to that same class of peers: Exotic becomes erotic. The theory claims to accommodate both the empirical evidence of the biological essentialists and the cultural relativism of the social constructionists. I also discuss sex differences in sexual orientation and the political implications of trying to explain homosexuality.

Bem, D. J. (1996). Exotic becomes erotic: A political postscript. This is an excerpt from the invited address, listed above.

This article is a postscript to Bem's (1996) theory of sexual orientation, which claims that an individual's sexual orientation is more directly the result of childhood experiences than of inborn biological factors. The possibility that the theory provides a successful strategy for preventing gender-nonconforming children from becoming homosexual adults is considered and rejected. So, too, is the thesis that biological explanations of homosexuality are more likely than experience-based explanations to promote gay-positive attitudes and practices.

Bem, D. J. (2008). Is there a causal link between childhood gender nonconformity and adult homosexuality? Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 12, 61-79. 

The correlation between childhood gender conformity or nonconformity and adult sexual orientation is well established, but is it causal? The Exotic-Becomes-Erotic (EBE) theory of sexual orientation asserts that it is. A path analysis of data from a large sample of twins demonstrates that childhood gender conformity or nonconformity is an intervening step in the developmental path from the genotype to sexual orientation. The possibility that EBE theory provides viable strategies for influencing a child's future sexual orientation is discussed.

Bem, D. J. (2000). Exotic Becomes Erotic: Interpreting the biological correlates of sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 29, 531-548.

Although biological findings currently dominate the research literature on the determinants of sexual orientation, biological theorizing has not yet spelled out a developmental path by which any of the various biological correlates so far identified might lead to a particular sexual orientation. The Exotic-Becomes-Erotic (EBE) theory of sexual orientation (D. J. Bem, 1996) attempts to do just that, by suggesting how biological variables might interact with experiential and sociocultural factors to influence an individual's sexual orientation. Evidence for the theory is reviewed, and a path analysis of data from a large sample of twins is presented which yields preliminary support for the theory's claim that correlations between genetic variables and sexual orientation are mediated by childhood gender nonconformity.

Bem, D. J. (1999). A Preliminary Test of the EBE Model (Unpublished)

(This is an excerpt from the Archives of Sexual Behavior article cited above. It omits the description of the theory and just presents the new data.)

A path analysis of a sample of twins is consistent with the EBE proposition that the correlation between an individual's sexual orientation and his or her genotype is mediated by childhood gender nonconformity: For both sexes, there is a significant path between the genotype and childhood gender nonconformity and a further significant path between childhood gender nonconformity and sexual orientation, but there is no remaining, direct link between the genotype and sexual orientation.

Bem, D. J. (2005) Are Self-identified Bisexuals Just Lying to Us—or to Themselves? (Online contribution to the sexnet listserv) 

Psi Phenomena (ESP)

Bem, D. J., Tressoldi, P., Rabeyron, T. & Duggan, M. (2014). Feeling the Future:  A Meta-analysis of 90 Experiments on the Anomalous Anticipation of Random Future Events. [Under Editorial Review]

In 2011, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a report of nine experiments purporting to demonstrate that an individual’s cognitive and affective responses can be influenced by randomly selected stimulus events that do not occur until after his or her responses have already been made and recorded, a generalized variant of the phenomenon traditionally denoted by the term precognition (Bem, 2011). To encourage replications, all materials needed to conduct them were made available on request. We here report a meta-analysis of 90 experiments from 33 laboratories in 14 countries which yielded an overall effect greater than 6 sigma, z = 6.40, p = 1.2 × 10-10  with an effect size (Hedges’ g) of 0.09. A Bayesian analysis yielded a Bayes Factor of 1.4 × 109, greatly exceeding the criterion value of 100 for “decisive evidence” in support of the experimental hypothesis (Jeffries, 1961). The number of potentially unretrieved experiments required to reduce the overall effect size to a trivial value is 547. Several tests demonstrate that the database is not significantly compromised by publication bias, selection bias, or by “p-hacking,” the selective suppression of findings or statistical analyses that failed to yield statistical significance. An analysis of p–curve, the distribution of significant p values (Simonsohn, Nelson, & Simmons, 2014a; 2014b) estimates the true effect size of the database to be 0.20, virtually identical to the effect size of Bem’s original studies (0.22). We discuss the controversial status of precognition and other anomalous effects collectively known as psi.

Bem, D. J. (2011). Feeling the Future: Experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 407-425. 

The term psi denotes anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms. Two variants of psi are precognition (conscious cognitive awareness) and premonition (affective apprehension) of a future event that could not otherwise be anticipated through any known inferential process. Precognition and premonition are themselves special cases of a more general phenomenon: the anomalous retroactive influence of some future event on an individual’s current responses, whether those responses are conscious or nonconscious, cognitive or affective. This article reports 9 experiments, involving more than 1,000 participants, that test for retroactive influence by “time-reversing” well-established psychological effects so that the individual’s responses are obtained before the putatively causal stimulus events occur. Data are presented for 4 time-reversed effects: precognitive approach to erotic stimuli and precognitive avoidance of negative stimuli; retroactive priming; retroactive habituation; and retroactive facilitation of recall. The mean effect size (d) in psi performance across all 9 experiments was .21, and all but one of them yielded statistically significant results. The individual-difference variable of stimulus seeking, a component of extraversion, was significantly correlated with psi performance in 5 of the experiments, with participants who scored above the midpoint on a scale of stimulus seeking achieving a mean effect size of .42. Skepticism about psi, issues of replication, and theories of psi are also discussed.

Bem, D. J., Utts, J., & Johnson, W. O. (2011). Must psychologists change the way they analyze their data? A response to Wagenmakers, Wetzels, Borsboom, & van der Maas (2011).

Bem, D. J. (2010). Response to Alcock's "Back from  the Future: Comments on Bem."

Bem, D. J., & Honorton, C. (1994). Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 4-18. 
Most academic psychologists do not yet accept the existence of psi, anomalous processes of information or energy transfer (such as telepathy or other forms of extrasensory perception) that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms. We believe that the replication rates and effect sizes achieved by one particular experimental method, the ganzfeld procedure, are now sufficient to warrant bringing this body of data to the attention of the wider psychological community. Competing meta-analyses of the ganzfeld database are reviewed, 1 by R. Hyman (1985), a skeptical critic of psi research, and the other by C. Honorton (1985), a parapsychologist and major contributor to the ganzfeld database. Next the results of 11 new ganzfeld studies that comply with guidelines jointly authored by R. Hyman and C. Honorton (1986) are summarized. Finally, issues of replication and theoretical explanation are discussed.

[My response to a critique of this article by Ray Hyman is listed below]

Bem, D. J. , (1994) Nonspecialist's Guide to the Bem/Honorton Article. (Unpublished)

A brief guide to understanding the statistics in the article cited above for those with little or no background in reading professional articles in the psychological literature.

Bem, D. J., (1994). Response to Hyman Psychological Bulletin, 115, 25-27.

R. Hyman (1994) raises two major points about D. J. Bem and C. Honorton's (1994) article on the psi ganzfeld experiments. First, he challenges the claim that the results of the autoganzfeld experiments are consistent with the earlier database. Second, he expresses concerns about the adequacy of the randomization procedures. In response to the first point, I argue that our claims about the consistency of the autoganzfeld results with the earlier database are quite modest and challenge his counterclaim that the results are inconsistent with it. In response to his methodological point, I present new analyses that should allay apprehensions about the adequacy of the randomization procedures.

Bem, D. J., Palmer, J., Broughton, R. S. (2001). Updating the Ganzfeld Database: A Victim of Its Own Success?, Journal of Parapsychology, 65, 207-218. 

The existence of psi--anomalous processes of information transfer such as telepathy or clairvoyance--continues to be controversial. Earlier meta-analyses of studies using the so-called ganzfeld procedure appeared to provide replicable evidence for psi (D. J. Bem and C. Honorton, 1994), but a follow-up meta-analysis of 30 more recent ganzfeld studies did not (J. Milton & R. Wiseman, 1999). When 10 new studies published after the Milton-Wiseman cutoff date are added to their database, the overall ganzfeld effect again becomes significant, but the mean effect size is still smaller than those from the original studies. Ratings of all 40 studies by 3 independent raters reveal that the effect size achieved by a replication is significantly correlated with the degree to which it adhered to the standard ganzfeld protocol. Standard replications yield significant effect sizes comparable to those obtained in the past.

Bem, D. J. (1996). Ganzfeld phenomena. In G. Stein (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the paranormal (pp. 291-296). Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.

This is a brief encyclopedia article that summarizes the history and evidence for psi from experiments using the ganzfeld procedure. It is based on the much longer article by Bem & Honorton, listed above.

Bem, D. J. (1994, August). Does Psi Exist? The World & I, 215-219.

Recent laboratory research suggests that parapsychologists might finally have cornered their elusive quarry: Reproducible evidence for psychic functioning.

Bem, D. J. (2005). Review of G. E. Schwartz, The afterlife experiments: Breakthrough scientific evidence of life after death. Journal of Parapsychology, 69, 173-183. 


Bem, D. J., & Allen, A. (1974). On predicting some of the people some of the time: The search for cross-situational consistencies in behavior. Psychological Review, 81, 506-520. 

The historically recurring controversy over the existence of cross-situational consistencies in behavior is sustained by the discrepancy between intuitions, which affirm their existence, and the research literature, which does not. It is argued that the nomothetic assumptions of the traditional research paradigm are incorrect, and that by adopting some of the idiographic assumptions employed by intuitions, higher cross-situational correlation coefficients can be obtained. A study with 64 undergraduates is reported which shows that it is possible to identify on a priori grounds those individuals who will be cross-situationally consistent and those who will not. It is concluded that not only must personality assessment attend to situations-as has been recently urged-but to persons as well.

Caspi, A., Bem, D. J., & Elder, G. H., Jr. (1989). Continuities and consequences of interactional styles across the life course. Journal of Personality, 57, 375-406.

Behavior patterns can be sustained across the life course by two kinds of person-environment interaction. Cumulative continuity arises when an individual's interactional style channels him or her into environments that themselves reinforce that style, thereby sustaining the behavior pattern across the life course through the progressive accumulation of its own consequences. Interactional continuity arises when an individual's style evokes reciprocal, sustaining responses from others in ongoing social interaction, thereby reinstating the behavior pattern across the individual's life course whenever the relevant interactive situation is replicated. Using archival data from the Berkeley Guidance Study (Macfarlane, Allen, & Honzik, 1954), we present evidence for the operation of these two continuity-promoting processes by identifying individuals who were ill-tempered, shy, or dependent in late childhood and then tracing the continuities and consequences of these interactional styles across the subsequent 30 years of their lives in the domains of work and family. The importance of the sociocultural context in mediating these continuities and consequences is stressed.

Bem, D. J. (1992). On the uncommon wisdom of our lay personality theory. Psychological Inquiry, 3, 82-84.

[A book review essay on Ross & Nisbett, The person and the situation: Perspectives of social psychology]

Articles on Writing for Psychological Journals

Bem, D. J. (2003) Writing the Empirical Journal Article. This is a single-column pdf file (easiest to read in a browser).

Bem, D. J. (2003) Writing the Empirical Journal Article. This is the same pdf file but in a double-column format (easiest to read offline).

A version of this article appears in Darley, J. M., Zanna, M. P., & Roediger III, H. L. (Eds) (2003). The Compleat Academic: A Practical Guide for the Beginning Social Scientist, 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bem, D. J. (1995). Writing a Review Article for Psychological Bulletin. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 172-177.

Guidelines and tips are offered for writing a Psychological Bulletin review article that will be accessible to the widest possible audience. Techniques are discussed for organizing a review into a coherent narrative, and the importance of giving readers a clear take-home message is emphasized. In addition, advice is given for rewriting a manuscript that has been reviewed and returned with an invitation to revise and resubmit.


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