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Sensitivity to coincidences and paranormal belief
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Karolinska Institutet.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2011 (English)In: Perceptual and Motor Skills, ISSN 0031-5125, E-ISSN 1558-688X, Vol. 113, no 3, 894-908 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Often it is difficult to find a natural explanation as to why a surprising coincidence occurs. In attempting to find one, people may be inclined to accept paranormal explanations. The objective of this study was to investigate whether people with a lower threshold for being surprised by coincidences have a greater propensity to become believers compared to those with a higher threshold. Participants were exposed to artificial coincidences, which were formally defined as less or more probable, and were asked to provide remarkability ratings. Paranormal belief was measured by the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale. An analysis of the remarkability ratings revealed a significant interaction effect between Sheep-Goat score and type of coincidence, suggesting that people with lower thresholds of surprise, when experiencing coincidences, harbor higher paranormal belief than those with a higher threshold. The theoretical aspects of these findings were discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 113, no 3, 894-908 p.
Keyword [en]
coincidences, paranormal belief
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-70429DOI: 10.2466/09.22.PMS.113.6.894-908ISI: 000299754700018OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-70429DiVA: diva2:481210
Note

The authors thank their friend and colleague, Dr. Jan Dalkvist, for his theoretical and practical support during the progress of this work.

Available from: 2012-01-20 Created: 2012-01-20 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Coincidences and Paranormal Belief
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Coincidences and Paranormal Belief
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis it is argued that coincidences play an important role in the formation of belief, including belief in the paranormal. Three papers are presented. In the first paper, four studies are conducted to investigate whether the often-reported remarkable correspondences in telepathy studies (using the ganzfeld procedure) could be accounted for by chance. The results suggest that they can indeed come about by chance, and that they are almost expected to happen given the large number of variables that can be perceived as “remarkably connected.” The second paper investigates whether individuals who are more sensitive to coincidences are more likely to be believers in the paranormal. Participants were exposed to artificial coincidences, which were formally defined as less or more probable, and were asked to provide remarkability ratings. The results suggest that individual variation in sensitivity to coincidences is associated with belief in the paranormal. It is concluded that because some individuals are more likely to be surprised by coincidences, these individuals may be exposed to a greater number of coincidences that are difficult or impossible to explain naturally. This exposure may lead to the development of paranormal belief. The last paper was an explorative study investigating how sensitivity to coincidences is affected by requiring individuals to assess coincidences in probabilistic terms (reflecting controlled processing) compared to relying on the emotion of surprise (automatic processing), while taking associative looseness into consideration. It was concluded that automatic and controlled processing may have an effect on the judgments of coincidences, but only when individual differences in paranormal belief or associative processing is taken into account.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 2013. 68 p.
Keyword
Coincidences, surprise, paranormal belief, parapsychology, telepathy, associative processing, probabilistic reasoning, Ganzfeld, associative learning, automatic processing, controlled processing
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-94376 (URN)978-91-7447-792-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-12-02, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted. 

Available from: 2013-11-10 Created: 2013-10-04 Last updated: 2013-11-12Bibliographically approved

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