Formoso, K. (2022). An investigation into the underlying characteristics of non-psychedelic mystical experiences: A factorial analysis of the mystical experience questionnaire [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

Mystical experiences (ME) are a special type of altered state of consciousness most commonly associated with spiritual practices and psycho-active substances. While research investigating non-psychoactive engendered ME (NPME) is scant, there is a plethora of literature emerging from psychopharmacological experiments reporting the therapeutic benefits of ME engendered with psychoactive agents (PME). Within the latter the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ43) has been developed and refined to the most recent version, the MEQ30. This instrument is now being used to measure NPME. The present study investigated the appropriateness of the MEQ30 for measuring NPME. Participants (N = 136) completed an online survey about their experience which included the MEQ43 and its subset of items that make up the MEQ30. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed that the factor structure of the MEQ30 was not a good fit for NPME. Further exploratory factor analysis of the MEQ43 suggested that an alternative set of items and corresponding factors could be more appropriate. The newly proposed scale, the MEQ25, retains 25 items from the MEQ43 and has four underlying factors that account for all of the MEQ43 factors. The MEQ25 factors are Sacred Unity, Noetic Quality, Time Space Transcendence and, Ineffable and Paradoxical. The new scale is unique in that it has a separate factor for noetic quality which is considered a salient aspect of ME. The MEQ25 demonstrated excellent internal reliability (α = .93) and, significant strong external validity. Further confirmatory factor analysis is need to support these preliminary findings.

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