Vitalistic Thinking in Adults

Wilson, Stuart (2013) Vitalistic Thinking in Adults. British Journal of Psychology, 104 (4). pp. 512-524. ISSN 0007-1269

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Vitalistic thinking has traditionally been associated with reasoning about biological phenomena. The current research aimed to investigate a broader range of vitalistic thinking than previously studied. Esoteric notions of “energy” are frequently used by individuals when making causal attributions for strange occurrences, and previous literature has linked such thinking with paranormal, magical and superstitious beliefs. Two experiments are described that aim to investigate whether adults are vitalistic when asked to make causal judgments, and whether this can be predicted by thinking styles and prior paranormal belief. Experiment 1 asked participants to rate three causal options (one of which was vitalistic) for six vignettes. Scores on one dimension of paranormal belief (New Age Philosophy) and analytical thinking significantly predicted vitalism, but scores on intuitive thinking and Traditional Paranormal Beliefs did not. Experiment 2 extended the findings by asking participants to generate their own causal responses. Again, paranormal belief was found to be the best predictor of vitalism, but this time Traditional Paranormal Beliefs were associated with vitalistic responses whilst both intuitive and analytical thinking were unable to significantly predict classification. Results challenge previous findings, suggesting that vitalistic thinking may operate differently when applied to everyday causal reasoning

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Vitalism; Superstition; intuitive and analytical thinking; paranormal belief
Divisions: School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management > Psychology and Sociology
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2012 13:43
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2014 13:00

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