mind map of coincidence and probability judgement in relation to anomalous belief

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  • Created by: alice
  • Created on: 15-12-12 22:01
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    • Coincidence
      • Coincidence is when 2 events happen at the same time, and we assume that one causes the other. Maybe people who believe in anomalous experience are less likely to assess coincidences appropriately
      • Illusion of Control
        • Seeking explanations for coincidences is what some people do to increase their feelings of control
        • Ayeroff and Abelson (1976) ---found that sheep have a greater illusion of control
        • Whitson and Galinsky (2008) ---found that reduced control led ppts to detect patterns where there were none and form illusionary correlations between unrelated events
          • A strength of the study was that the lack of control was manipulated by the experimenters by asking them to recall situations where either they felt in control or a lack of control
      • General Cognitive Ability
        • Cognitive ability or intelligence may be lower in sheep and so are less able to accurately judge whether a paranormal event in fact has a normal explanation
        • Research has shown that sheep have significantly lower academic performance than goats (Gray, 1987).
          • Research has also shown that sheep perform worse on tests of syllogistic reasoning
        • Jones et al. (1977) found that sheep actually have higher cognitive ability
          • Evans (1973) ---found through surveys that even among the scientific community there are high levels og belief. E.g. 'New scientist' readers were questioned, 67% said they consider ESP as either 'established fact' or a 'likely possibility'
        • Wiseman and Watt (2006) concluded from a general survey of research that sheep and goats only differ in terms of syllogistic reasoning rather than cognitive ability
      • Finding Links Between Distantly Related Materials
        • When you see a pattern that isn't there, e.g. when you see a spherical object in the sky and believe it's a UFO
        • Brugger et al. (in Philips, 2002) ---Found that people with high levels of dopamine are more likely to find significance where there is none
          • Sheep and goat ppts were shown real and scrambled faces and real and made-up words on a screen. Sheep were more likely to see a face or word where there was none; goats more likely to miss a real face or word
            • Could explain the difference between sheep and goats on a cognitive and biological level
            • Second part of the study: ppts were given L-dopa which increases dopamine. Goats acted more like sheep; no change in sheep
        • Should not be viewed negatively: Thalbourne (1998) ---found that sheep are more creative than goats, who may lose out as they fail to detect meaningful connections
      • Evolutionary Explanation
        • Casual thinking evolved because it allows people to understand and control their environment
        • Type 1 errors is where the null hypothesis is rejected when it is true (e.g. walking under a ladder causes bad luck). These are tolerated to avoid making type 2 errors, where the null hypothesis is accepted when it is false (e.g. eating this toadstool wont hurt me)
        • Foster and Kokko (2009) ---argue that the adaptive advantage will persist as long as the occasionally correct response has a large adaptive benefit
    • Probability Judgements
      • refers to the likelihood of an event occurring. Some people are better at judging probability than others.
        • Believers may underestimate the probability of certain events occurring just by chance; rejecting coincidence as an explanation for paranormal events
      • Cognitive Ability
        • Might be that poor probability judgement is due to low cognitive ability and is not a component in paranormal belief
        • Musch and Ehrenberg (2002) ---controlled for difference in general cognitive ability and found this reduced the performance difference between sheep and goats in probability judgement tasks to 0
      • Probabilistic Reasoning Tasks
        • Blackmore and Troscianko (1985) ---asked ppts (50 school girls) various questions, including the birthday paradox, 'how many people would you need at a party to have a 50:50 chance that 2 share the same birthday?'
          • Possible answers: 23,43 and 98. More goats answered correctly (23)
        • Rogers et al. (2008) ---tested probability judgement by giving ppts 16 conjunction vignettes (descriptions of occasions where 2 events co-occur). Ppts were asked to indicate the probability of such events co-occurring -sheep made more conjunction errors than goats
        • Repetition Avoidance
      • Correlation isn't a cause: research evidence largely suggests a link between probability misjudgement and paranormal belief, but the link doesn't suggest that probability misjudgement causes paranormal belief -there may be intervening factors
      • Blackmore (1997) 600 replies from the 'Daily Mail' ---Ppts were asked to identify which of 10 statements were true for them and imagine *** many would be true for a randomly selected person. Found that people identified average of 2.42 as true for them and 3.57 for others (overestimated the amount true for others)
        • Found people who believe in ESP generally gave higher answers for themselves and for others, but the difference between self and others was the same for goats and sheep. Concluded sheep and goats are equally accurate in judging probability
        • Reason for different findings could be how belief is defined, this study focused on just belief in ESP
      • Kahneman and Tversky (1972) ---suggest that people use various heuristics (strategies to solve problems), such as representativeness
        • E.g. gambler's fallacy: some people know that short runs of coin flips won't represent the theoretical probability of 50:50, others expect it.


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