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The effects of automatic and controlled processing on the perception of remarkable coincidences with regard to paranormal belief
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
(English)In: Personality and Individual Differences, ISSN 0191-8869, E-ISSN 1873-3549Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Inferior probabilistic reasoning skills and loose associations have been suggested to affect the propensity to experience coincidences, and thereby to lead to the development of belief in the paranormal. Whether probabilistic skills and loose associations affect the automatic reaction of surprise, or the subsequent cognitively controlled analysis, has not yet been investigated. The aim of this explorative study was to look at how sensitivity to coincidences is affected by requiring participants to assess coincidences in probabilistic terms (reflecting controlled processing) compared to  relying on the emotion of surprise (automatic processing), with belief in the paranormal and loose associative processing as hypothetical moderator variables. Based on an experiment that exposed participants to fabricated coincidences, it was concluded that relying on automatic processing may affect judgments of coincidences differently than relying on controlled processing, but only when individual differences in paranormal belief and associative processing are taken into account.

National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-95673OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-95673DiVA: diva2:661245
Available from: 2013-11-01 Created: 2013-11-01 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically 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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