I want to believe: Exploring cultural and cognitive factors of paranormal belief.
(2016) I want to believe: Exploring cultural and cognitive factors of paranormal belief., no. 60.
This dissertation sought to examine the potential impact of cultural contexts on the rate of endorsement of paranormal explanations for causal scenarios. It also sought to explore the potential differences in cognitive reasoning systems of those classed as paranormal believers vs. non-believers. A quantitative, within-subjects, questionnaire based, study was employed - followed by a between-subjects comparison of the believers vs. non-believers. It was found that the cultural context of causal scenarios had no significant impact on the rate at which participants endorsed explanations. The finding of cultural context having no significant effect within the dimension of Traditional Paranormal Belief may be regarded as critical as it contradicts previous statements by Lange, Irwin and Houran (2000) that such beliefs are grounded in a person's cultural heritage. Significant differences in endorsement rates between believers and non-believers was found, which was then explored by the further categorization of participants under the two belief dimensions of New Age Philosophy and Traditional Paranormal Beliefs. Potential applications of different cognitive reasoning systems are discussed as an explanation for the disparity in endorsement scores. The experimental results appear to support and expand previous findings by Wilson (2013) regarding interactions between intuitive thinking styles, analytical thinking styles, and vitalism. The results also challenge the validity of the Rasch scaled version of the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale (Tobacyk, 2004) put forward by Lange, Irwin and Houran (2000). Amendments to current methods of assessing paranormal beliefs and future exploration of mediating factors are discussed.