Many people hold a deep belief in the paranormal and supernatural. It may stem from various reasons; the science is not yet clear. Some research suggests that mental factors like anxiety and stress play a role. Factors like upbringing and family beliefs can also mold people in this regard. This article looks into the current research on this topic.
How To Identify Paranormal Beliefs?
Research into mental and psychological factors has always been complicated. It is relatively simple to conduct experiments in hard science. You can easily take a bunch of coins and flip them. This short experiment should prove the bias of the coin. But a mental or psychological experiment is not so straightforward. There are a lot of factors you would need to consider.
Most people cannot even agree on the definition of the word paranormal. Many people think of it as something beyond the description of normal science. Hence, the name paranormal or beyond the normal. Would you consider astrology or clairvoyance to be paranormal? Some people seem to think yes, while others may consider these normal.
Therein lies a fundamental problem in studying the paranormal. But if you do choose a definition, what next? How do you study such phenomena? How do you quantify people’s beliefs in such occurrences? Various researchers have attempted to study these things. The results of their research are publicly available on the Internet. They describe their methodologies in detail. It can help you understand the experiment and study the results better.
What Makes People Hold Such Paranormal Beliefs?
Beliefs have always been subjective and imprecise. Nature is full of things that humans have tried to quantify precisely. Almost all such attempts have failed. Nature is nothing if not a fluid spectrum. The human mind is also a natural creation. It is bound to hold a wide gamut of thoughts and emotions. The mind can help people conjure up an almost limitless set of experiences.
There are many theories about how and why people hold paranormal beliefs. Some scientists think that mental stresses and anxieties are important. A mind that is too stressed with trauma is more likely to believe supernatural events. Some others suggest that your educational background and upbringing are key factors. The data indicates that people studying hard sciences tend not to hold such beliefs. Your religiosity can also influence your supernatural beliefs. Religion does involve belief in a seemingly paranormal force.
Measuring People’s Supernatural Beliefs
Any good scientific research must present quantifiable data. Supernatural and paranormal beliefs can be almost impossible to quantify. But researchers have devised various techniques to work around this problem. Several scales attempt to measure your belief in the supernatural.
These scales are usually presented as questionnaires. They will ask you questions about several topics. These topics range from religious beliefs to general superstition. They also include questions on extraordinary life forms like the Loch Ness Monster. These questions are designed to gauge your response on a scale. The results are usually in forms called sub-scales. Some scales have as few as two sub-scales, and some have as many as seven.
How Common Is The Belief In The Supernatural?
There is a paper published in 1998 on this topic. It states that 29.5% of respondents said they visited a psychic at least once. These responses included visits to various types of psychics. Tarot and palm readers were the most common psychics. Others like astrologers and mediums were not far behind. Most people claimed to visit following a friend’s recommendation. Although many sought advice or comfort, most held a curiosity about the paranormal.
43% of the respondents felt the psychic readings were not accurate. 48% of them did not find the readings specific to them. About 50% of them said the readings were not helpful to them. Research seems to indicate that people do not always follow their readings. It may be because most people think of paranormal readings as just curious novelties.
Belief in the paranormal is a subjective concept. It can stem from the deepest part of your mind. Your mind may use it as a tool to overcome some personal trauma. It may even hold an entertainment or curiosity value. New research suggests that not all forms of such belief are detrimental. Some belief in the supernatural may help people overcome their fears.