Founder: Dr. Ian Stevenson


Dr. Ian Stevenson, the University of Virginia Grounds, circa 1970

Dr. Ian Stevenson founded the Division of Perceptual Studies in 1967. 

The research group was named the Division of Personality Studies at its inception and was renamed the Division of  Perceptual Studies in 2004.

Dr. Stevenson passed away in February of 2007.  His life spanned from October 31, 1918 to February 8, 2007.  We invite you to read Dr. Stevenson’s obituary, written by our esteemed colleague, Emily Williams Kelly, Ph.D.

Dr. Stevenson established the Division in order to conduct research in which scientific methodology is utilized to empirically investigate phenomena which cannot be explained by the currently accepted scientific assumptions and theories about the nature of mind or consciousness, and its relationship to matter. Examples of such phenomena, sometimes called paranormal, include various types of extrasensory perception (such as telepathy),apparitions and deathbed visions,  after-death communications or ADCs, poltergeists, experiences of persons who come close to death and survive (usually called near-death experiences or NDEs), out-of-body experiences(OBEs), and children’s memories of previous lives.

Despite widespread popular interest in anomalous phenomena that appear to challenge normal explanations, there is a paucity of careful scientific research into their occurrences and processes.  Our researchers are dedicated to the use of scientific methodology in their investigation of a wide range of unusual and anomalous phenomena.

  • For Interested readers regarding Ian Stevenson’s “Combination Lock Test”:

The Combination Lock Test for Survival, by Dr. Ian Stevenson, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, pp 246-254, 1968.

  • Here is an interesting article as it appeared in Scientific American, written by self-proclaimed skeptic, Jesse Bering in 2013.

Scientific American: “Ian Stevenson’s Case for the Afterlife: Are We ‘Skeptics’ Really Just Cynics?” by Jesse Bering,  2013

Ian Stevenson's Study of Paranormal Phenomena

Dr. Ian Stevenson

Dr. Ian Stevenson, Charlottesville VA, 1996

Below, you will find essays written by Dr. Stevenson in which he is expressing some thoughts on his involvement in the study of anomalous and paranormal phenomena throughout his long and storied career.

Scientists with Half-closed Minds. (reprinted) Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 22 (1) 2008.

Half A Career with the Paranormal.  An essay by Ian Stevenson,  Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 20 (1) 2006.

The Flora Levy Lecture in the Humanities.  An autobiographical lecture given by Ian Stevenson in 1989.


Ian Stevenson, UVA Medical Center Hour

“Scientific Evidence for Reincarnation”, Presented by Dr. Ian Stevenson (2002): 

At this historic UVA Medical Center Hour in 2002, Dr. Ian Stevenson presented his important research to the UVA medical community. During the course of the presentation, Dr. Stevenson gave detailed explanations of some of the cases he investigated and the evidence he uncovered regarding matching the subjects statements to facts about life of a person who was previously alive. This lecture was well received by those in attendance. It was “standing room only” in a large lecture hall.

Watch the video below.

In Remembrance of Ian Stevenson

In 2008, the Journal of Scientific Exploration, a journal co-founded by Dr. Stevenson, devoted an entire volume in remembrance of the significant research contributions made by Ian Stevenson over the course of his very productive and active lifetime.  The essays contained within this memorial volume are written by Dr. Stevenson’s many esteemed research colleagues in the field.

Entire Issue: Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 22, Number 1, 2008

Highlighted content of this issue:

1    Editorial – Peter A. Sturrock

   Theme and Variations: The Life and Work of Ian Stevenson – Emily Williams Kelly, Carlos S. Alvarado

11   Ian Stevenson: Recollections – Kerr L. White

18   Reflections on the Life and Work of Ian Stevenson – Alan Gauld

36   Ian Stevenson and Cases of the Reincarnation TypeJim B. Tucker 

44   Ian Stevenson and the Modern Study of Spontaneous ESP ExperiencesCarlos Alvarado, Nancy Zingrone

54   Ian Stevenson’s Contributions to Near-Death Studies Bruce Greyson

64 Ian Stevenson’s Contributions to the Study of MediumshipErlendur Haraldsson

73   Where Science and Religion Intersect: The Work of Ian StevensonEdward F. Kelly, Emily W. Kelly

132  Scientists with Half-closed Minds – Ian Stevenson