Explanations for Anomalous Experience

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What are the explanations for anomalous experience?
Coincidence and probability; superstitious behaviour and magical thinking; personality factors
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What is the illusion of causality?
If two things happen at the same time, 'sheep' are more likely to believe that one caused the other
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What is the illusion of connection?
Making links between unrelated items
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What is the illusion of control?
Explanations for coincidence give sense of order in the world
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Who are more likely to be believers?
People with lower general cognitive ability
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What is adaptive significance?
Type 1 errors of causal thinking are tolerated in order to avoid Type 2 errors
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What did Brugger et al (2002) find?
Illusion of connection may be created by higher levels of dopamine
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What did Thalbourne (1998) find?
Making links may also be adaptive and may underlie creativity
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Who is the illusion of control supported by?
Whitson and Galinsky (2008)
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What did Jones et al (1977) find?
That people with lower general cognitive ability are not believers
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According to the role of probability judgements, what are paranormal experiences?
A cognitive illusion due to attributing cause to random events
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How has this been tested?
Repetition avoidance; questions about probability; and conjunction vignettes
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What did Blackmore (1997) find?
No difference between sheep and goats on a probability task
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What does evidence show belief is linked to but not a cause of?
Probability misjudgement
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What may probability misjudgement be linked to?
Low cognitive ability
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How have probability misjudgements been alternatively explained?
In terms of failing to understand heuristics, such as representativeness
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How is superstitious behaviour explained?
Making erroneous causal links is adaptive
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How did Skinner (1947) explain superstitious behaviour?
Superstitions develop when an accidental stimulus-response link is learned and then maintained through negative reinforcement
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According to Whitson and Galinsky (2008), why do superstitions develop?
To give an illusion of control
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What evidence did Skinner provide for his explanation?
Evidence from a study of pigeons who acquired superstitions
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What did Staddon and Simmelhag (1971) do and find?
They repeated Skinner's experiment and found 'superstitious' behaviours were unrelated to food award
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What did Matute (1996) find?
Humans did learn to press a button despite no actual effectiveness
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How are some superstitions learned?
Indirectly - through culture
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What does an illusion of control do?
Increases self-efficacy
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How did Freud (1915) explain magical thinking?
A form of child-like thinking, a defence mechanism in adults
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What is animism?
The association of objects with feelings
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What is nominal thinking?
The theory that names of objects affects our feelings about them
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What is the law of contagion?
The theory that magical thinking is adaptive to avoid disease
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What did Pronin et al (2006) find?
Participants felt more responsible if they had bad thoughts
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What is magical thinking associated with?
Schizophrenia and DID
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What are the benefits of magical thinking?
Avoids 'depression realism' - lack of magical thinking is linked to low levels of dopamine
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How has magical thinking been applied to the real world?
Increased willingness to donate organs for transplant
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What is neuroticism?
Negative emotional states are reduced by paranormal beliefs
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What is extraversion?
People more open to paranormal beliefs
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What did Williams et al (2007) and Honorton et al (1992) find?
A positive correlation with neuroticism and with extraversion
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What is fantasy proneness?
Becoming so deeply absorbed in fantasy to believe it real
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What is suggestibility?
More willing to believe faks
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What did Thalbourne (2001) say creative personalities were more likely to do?
Make links between unrelated items
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What other factors explain anomalous experience?
Locus of control; field dependence; higher sensation seeking and dissociation
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What does the method used to measure paranormal beliefs affect correlations with?
Personality factors
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What did Wiseman and Watt (2004) find?
A correlation with neuroticism only when negative beliefs of PBS were measured
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What has evidence found that psychoticism is linked to?
Some paranormal beliefs
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How is the locus of control explanation evaluated?
Depends on the type of paranormal belief - some correlate positively with externality, others negatively
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What might explain recollection of alien abductions?
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What did French and Wilson (2006) find?
Paranormal explanations may be false beliefs which are more common in susceptible people
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There is some evidence of a link with mental disorder: True or false?
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Card 2


What is the illusion of causality?


If two things happen at the same time, 'sheep' are more likely to believe that one caused the other

Card 3


What is the illusion of connection?


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Card 4


What is the illusion of control?


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Card 5


Who are more likely to be believers?


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