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Cognitive, Personality and Biological Factors
1. Cognitive factors-Wiseman and Watt said there were 4 cognitive explanations:
general cognitive ability, finding links between distantly related materials,
probability misjudgement and fantasy proneness.
2. Critical Point 1: There is conflicting evidence about whether cognitive ability is linked
to paranormal experiences and beliefs. Jones found that believers were actually
more intelligent and a survey in New Scientist found that out of 1500 readers, 67%
regarded ESP either as "an established fact" or a "likely possibility". Consequently,
this seems to underlie the view that the more intelligent you are the less likely you
are to believe in the paranormal as was first proposed.
3. Personality factors- Russell and Jones claim that paranormal beliefs could be
satisfying a psychological need.
4. Neuroticism- tendency to experience negative instead of positive emotional states,
paranormal beliefs create a distance from reality as a defence mechanism to reduce
such negative emotional states- Williams found a positive correlation between
neuroticism and paranormal beliefs.
5. Schizotypy- Irwin and Green found a link between paranormal belief and schizotypy
in the cognitive-perceptual domain.
6. Extraversion- Honorton- Meta analysis- 60 studies relating to extraversion to ESP
performance and found overall positive correlation.
7. Locus of control- people with external locus of control- events explained in terms of
some external determinants, like a paranormal explanation, correlation found
between external locus of control and paranormal belief- Allen and Lester.
8. Critical Point 1: There is strong support with the view that your personality traits
affect whether you believe in the paranormal. Tobacyk and Mitchell found a link with
narcissism and Bentall confirmed the link with schizotypy. This suggests that
personality traits are a key factor, this makes sense especially for the schizotypy as
key characteristics include "having magical or superstitious belief and interpretation
9. Critical Point 2: There is a difference between what internal locus of control people
and external locus of control people believe in, in terms of paranormal belief and
experiences. Wolfradt found that psi phenomena correlate positively with an
external locus of control whereas others such as (PK) correlate negatively. However,
Davies and Kirby found a positive correlation between internal locus of control and
belief in psi. Therefore, it is difficult to generalise any results from research due to
10. Biological factors- right hemisphere over-activation- found more in believers
Pizzagelli, high levels of dopamine- underlie paranormal beliefs (Brugger), and
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Critical Point 1: There is strong evidence for the role of dopamine in how much
people believe in the paranormal. Brugger found that people with high levels of
dopamine in their brains were more likely to find significance in coincidence and pick
out meaning when there is none. Also he found that if given the drug l-dopa, the
non-believers saw more faces where there were none, and the drug had no effect
on the believers.…read more