What do we believe about our beliefs?



Wilson, Stuart and Goodall, Karen and McVittie, Chris (2011) What do we believe about our beliefs? Journal of Qualitative Psychology. (Submitted)

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Abstract

Understanding why people hold esoteric beliefs has traditionally followed a quantitative psychometric approach, in which measures of beliefs are compared against measures of other cognitive functions. This approach is limited in what it can tell us about how people conceptualise the beliefs that they have. We conducted 20 interviews, exploring beliefs relating to ‘paranormal’ phenomena. Five themes were identified that were central to the participants’ understanding: the limits of science, the power of the brain, tuning into energy, conservation of energy, and scepticism towards paranormal claims. We discuss the ways in which participants draw upon these themes in making sense of the phenomena in question. The key message of the current research is that understanding paranormal beliefs requires a broader, more inclusive methodological approach than traditional psychometrics. Questionnaire approaches fail to address many important aspects of such beliefs, some of which emerged clearly in our interviews.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management > Psychology and Sociology
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2011 11:26
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2014 12:59
URI: http://eresearch.qmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/2609

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