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Journal ArticleDOI

Paranormal belief, thinking style preference and susceptibility to confirmatory conjunction errors

TL;DR: This study examines the extent to which belief in extrasensory perception, psychokinesis or life after death (LAD), plus need for cognition (NFC) and faith in intuition (FI), predict the generation of confirmatory conjunction errors.
About: This article is published in Consciousness and Cognition.The article was published on 2018-10-01 and is currently open access. It has received 18 citations till now. The article focuses on the topics: Paranormal.

Summary (3 min read)

Central Lancashire online Knowledge

  • Individuals with low (versus high) NFC made marginally more confirmatory CEs 4. intuitive-experiential thinking had no impact on CE rates 5. findings are consistent with Tentori’s (2013) Confirmation-Theoretical Framework Abstract (c) Erica feels uneasy driving her car for such a long distance and whilst on the motorway, Erica’s car breaks down.
  • In all cases, a conjunction error was made whenever the conjunctive term [statement (c)] was deemed more likely than either or both the constituent event(s) alone (cf. Tversky & Kahneman, 1983).
  • A second aim is to test the robustness of believers’ propensity for conjunction biases - overall as well as specifically for confirmatory conjunctions - once individual differences in thinking style preference have been controlled for.
  • First, with relevant demographics controlled for, individuals with stronger paranormal beliefs (all types) will make more CE’s generally [H01], more CEs for paranormal over non-paranormal events [H02], more CEs for confirmatory over disconfirmatory outcomes [H03] and more CEs for confirmatory paranormal over all other conjunction types [H04] than those with less pronounced paranormal beliefs.

2.1. Participants

  • An opportunity sample was recruited from various locations in the North-West and South Coast regions of England (n=262; overall response rate=81.9%).
  • To reiterate, each scenario comprised background information followed by three statements; two constituent events [statements (a) and (b)] plus their conjunction [statement (c)].
  • For current purposes, these were rated on a 7-point Likert scale from 1 ‘extremely uncharacteristic of me’ to 7 ‘extremely characteristic of me’, with higher NFC and FI scores (re)coded to reflect a stronger preference for analytic-rational and experiential-intuitive thinking respectively.
  • A standard demographics questionnaire ascertained respondents’ gender, age, ethnicity (16 categories), occupational status (12 categories) and highest qualification both (a) generally as well as (b) specifically in mathematics/statistics and/or psychology (both from 1 'none' to 5 'postgraduate/professional').
  • Volunteers were given brief verbal instructions and handed a questionnaire pack to complete on site.

3.1. Preliminary Analyses

  • A single under-age (<16 year old) respondent was omitted from the data set.
  • Descriptive, reliability and normality data for the three paranormal belief (ASGS) and two thinking style (REI) subscales are presented in Table 1.
  • Subsequent examination of boxplots revealed six outliers, all for FI ratings.
  • 3. Correlations Correlations between the CE rate (across all conditions) and the various individual difference (ASGS, REI) and demographic measures are presented in Table 2.
  • First, PK beliefs were unrelated to maths, statistics and/or psychology-specific qualification levels and second, LAD beliefs were not associated with respondents’.

3.4. Correlations across Event Outcome Types

  • Correlations between CE rates and all individual difference measures across the four (2 event type 2 outcome type) experimental conditions are given in Table 3.
  • Noticeably, positive CE belief correlations were found for three of the four conditions, the exception being that PK beliefs were unrelated to CEs for paranormal disconfirmatory scenarios.
  • Positive CE gender correlations were also significant regardless of condition with these stronger for females then for males.
  • In most steps, inclusion of the next predictor improved model fit to a significant or near-significant degree.
  • Further, GLMM is able to overcome potential limitations of missing data, non-independent observations, non-homogeneous regression slopes, non-constant error variance and for within subjects design, non-sphericity, this raising statistical power (see Field, 2013).

3.5.3. Classification Accuracy

  • Table 4 shows that for the three models with a fixed intercept, respondents correctly classified around 16-20% of conjunction errors, just under 90% of non-errors and just under 60% of all responses regardless of whether ESP, PK or LAD beliefs served as the beliefbased predictor.
  • As Table 5 shows, all three AR1 rho statistics were significant implying that some unexamined factor(s) within each respondent had significant impact on CE generation (Field, 2013).
  • As expected, all three paranormal belief types predicted CE generation in their own right with exp(b) coefficients for ESP, PK and LAD beliefs being 1.32, 3.16 and 1.27 respectively (see Table 5).
  • The lack of any significant belief event interactions suggest the above trends existed regardless of whether scenarios depicted an ostensibly paranormal or a clearly nonparanormal event, meaning H02 is unsupported.
  • Specifically, with all other predictors averaged, a unit increase in NFC unit lowered the odds of making (versus not making) a CE by approximately a quarter regardless of whether ESP, PK or LAD beliefs served as the belief-based predictor.

4. Discussion

  • The three GLMMs with AR1 covariance structures all predicted the presence (vs. absence) of conjunction errors to a significant degree, indicating all scenarios were suitable for current purposes.
  • Thus, for positively conditionally related constituents, the likelihood of CE generation increases (see e.g., Rogers et al., 2017) Tversky and Kahneman’s (1983) two paradigms can both be integrated into Tentori et al.’s (2013) Confirmation-Theoretical Framework.

Predictors of Conjunction Error Generation

  • As Supplementary Table 5 shows, predictor coefficients for the three follow-up GLMMs were, for the most part, parallel to those reported in primary analyses.
  • Relevant exp(b) coefficients indicate that with all other predictors averaged, the shift from low to high NFC (coded -1 and +1 respectively) combined with a shift from disconfirmatory to a confirmatory outcome raised the odds of CE generation by around .55.
  • Finally, minor variation was also found in the main effect of FI which was now non- significant in the PK as well as ESP and LAD models.
  • Surprisingly, this was only true for LAD believers; those who prefer to shun rational-analytic (System 2) thinking made more confirmatory CEs than LAD believers’ more inclined to employ logical reasoning.

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Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors found that participants who trust science are more likely to believe and disseminate false claims that contain scientific references, whereas those that do not, and pointed out that reminding participants of the value of critical evaluation reduces belief in false claims.

28 citations

Posted Content
TL;DR: This paper found that non-reflective thinkers are more likely than reflective thinkers to accept supernatural causation after an uncanny encounter with astrology and ESP, regardless of their prior beliefs in the supernatural.
Abstract: For unknown reasons, individuals who are confident in their intuitions are more likely to hold supernatural beliefs. How does an intuitive cognitive style lead one to believe in faith healing, astrology, or extrasensory perception (ESP)? We hypothesize that cognitive style is critically important after one experiences an uncanny event that seems to invite a supernatural explanation. In three studies, we show that irrespective of their prior beliefs in the supernatural, non-reflective thinkers are more likely than reflective thinkers to accept supernatural causation after an uncanny encounter with astrology and ESP. This is the first time that controlled experiments demonstrate the negative dynamics of reflection and supernatural causality attribution. We consider the possible generalization of our findings to religious beliefs and their implications for the social vulnerability of non-reflective individuals.

21 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper investigated the degree to which cognitive bias mediated the relationship between thinking style and belief in the paranormal, and found that cognitive bias was associated with a higher likelihood of belief in ghosts.
Abstract: This study investigated the degree to which cognitive bias mediated the relationship between thinking style and belief in the paranormal. A sample of 496 participants completed the Revised Paranorm...

12 citations


Cites methods from "Paranormal belief, thinking style p..."

  • ...…and belief in the paranormal via constructs such as the Need for Cognition subscale of the RationalExperiential Inventory (Epstein et al., 1996) (see Rogers et al., 2018), and performance on Cognitive Reflection Tests (CRT; Frederick, 2005; Thomson & Oppenheimer, 2016; see Ross et al., 2017)....

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Evidence that non-believers are more open-minded, reflective, and less susceptible to holding epistemically suspect beliefs on average than those who believe in supernatural events or paranormal experiences such as astrology or magic is reviewed.
Abstract: I discuss recent research suggesting that individual differences in cognitive style give rise to and explain religious and related supernatural and paranormal beliefs. To do so, I illustrate intuitive cognitive biases (e.g., anthropomorphism) underlying these beliefs and then review the accumulated evidence indicating that non-believers are more open-minded, reflective, and less susceptible to holding epistemically suspect beliefs (e.g., conspiracy theories) on average than those who believe in supernatural events or paranormal experiences such as astrology or magic. However, seeing religion as a search for truth positively predicts reasoning performance. Although these findings are robust across diverse measures, evidence for a causal relationship remains mixed. Stronger and more precise manipulations and cross-cultural investigations are needed.

9 citations

References
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TL;DR: Suitable for those new to statistics as well as students on intermediate and more advanced courses, the book walks students through from basic to advanced level concepts, all the while reinforcing knowledge through the use of SAS(R).
Abstract: Hot on the heels of the 3rd edition of Andy Field's award-winning Discovering Statistics Using SPSS comes this brand new version for students using SAS(R). Andy has teamed up with a co-author, Jeremy Miles, to adapt the book with all the most up-to-date commands and programming language from SAS(R) 9.2. If you're using SAS(R), this is the only book on statistics that you will need! The book provides a comprehensive collection of statistical methods, tests and procedures, covering everything you're likely to need to know for your course, all presented in Andy's accessible and humourous writing style. Suitable for those new to statistics as well as students on intermediate and more advanced courses, the book walks students through from basic to advanced level concepts, all the while reinforcing knowledge through the use of SAS(R). A 'cast of characters' supports the learning process throughout the book, from providing tips on how to enter data in SAS(R) properly to testing knowledge covered in chapters interactively, and 'real world' and invented examples illustrate the concepts and make the techniques come alive. The book's companion website (see link above) provides students with a wide range of invented and real published research datasets. Lecturers can find multiple choice questions and PowerPoint slides for each chapter to support their teaching.

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors explore the rules that determine intuitive predictions and judgments of confidence and contrast these rules to the normative principles of statistical prediction and show that people do not appear to follow the calculus of chance or the statistical theory of prediction.
Abstract: In this paper, we explore the rules that determine intuitive predictions and judgments of confidence and contrast these rules to the normative principles of statistical prediction. Two classes of prediction are discussed: category prediction and numerical prediction. In a categorical case, the prediction is given in nominal form, for example, the winner in an election, the diagnosis of a patient, or a person's future occupation. In a numerical case, the prediction is given in numerical form, for example, the future value of a particular stock or of a student's grade point average. In making predictions and judgments under uncertainty, people do not appear to follow the calculus of chance or the statistical theory of prediction. Instead, they rely on a limited number of heuristics which sometimes yield reasonable judgments and sometimes lead to severe and systematic errors (Kahneman & Tversky, 1972b, 3; Tversky & Kahneman, 1971, 2; 1973, 11). The present paper is concerned with the role of one of these heuristics – representativeness – in intuitive predictions. Given specific evidence (e.g., a personality sketch), the outcomes under consideration (e.g., occupations or levels of achievement) can be ordered by the degree to which they are representative of that evidence. The thesis of this paper is that people predict by representativeness, that is, they select or order outcomes by the degree to which the outcomes represent the essential features of the evidence.

5,484 citations

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TL;DR: The conjunction rule as mentioned in this paper states that the probability of a conjunction cannot exceed the probabilities of its constituents, P (A) and P (B), because the extension (or the possibility set) of the conjunction is included in the extension of their constituents.
Abstract: Perhaps the simplest and the most basic qualitative law of probability is the conjunction rule: The probability of a conjunction, P (A&B) cannot exceed the probabilities of its constituents, P (A) and P (B), because the extension (or the possibility set) of the conjunction is included in the extension of its constituents. Judgments under uncertainty, however, are often mediated by intuitive heuristics that are not bound by the conjunction rule. A conjunction can be more representative than one of its constituents, and instances of a specific category can be easier to imagine or to retrieve than instances of a more inclusive category. The representativeness and availability heuristics therefore can make a conjunction appear more probable than one of its constituents. This phenomenon is demonstrated in a variety of contexts including estimation of word frequency, personality judgment, medical prognosis, decision under risk, suspicion of criminal acts, and political forecasting. Systematic violations of the conjunction rule are observed in judgments of lay people and of experts in both between-subjects and within-subjects comparisons. Alternative interpretations of the conjunction fallacy are discussed and attempts to combat it are explored.

3,221 citations

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Frequently Asked Questions (2)
Q1. What are the contributions in this paper?

This study examines the extent to which belief in extrasensory perception ( ESP ), psychokinesis ( PK ) or life after death ( LAD ), plus need for cognition ( NFC ) and faith in intuition ( FI ), predict the generation of confirmatory conjunction errors. 

Future studies should consider assessing the perceived difficulty of conjunction problems directly. 4. 5. Methodological Issues and Ideas for Future Research Whilst previous work employing different scenarios suggests this is not the case ( Rogers, 2009 ), future studies should consider such a possibility. Whilst evidence that believers are more prone to confirmatory CEs regardless of whether they endorse ESP, PK or LAD suggests otherwise, future research should examine different paranormal belief types utilising belief-specific conjunctions ( e. g., ESP believers should be asked to judge paranormal conjunctions indicative of ESP only ).