That’s really spooky! Belief in the paranormal is a sign of someone who trusts their instincts, researchers say
- People who believe in the paranormal have a different way of thinking
- Researchers claim that those who believe in ghosts trust in their gut feelings
- Sceptics who do not believe in the paranormal are likely to be more analytical
Those of us who believe in ghosts and things that go bump in the night are no doubt used to being dismissed as gullible or naive.
But here’s something to raise your spirits – a study suggests that people who think the paranormal is real simply have a ‘different’ style of thinking.
Researchers say those who believe in spooks and the supernatural trust in their instincts, while the sceptical are more analytical.
Researchers say those who believe in spooks and the supernatural trust in their instincts, while the sceptical are more analytical
A team looked at 71 studies conducted over 40 years into people who believe in hauntings, clairvoyance and psychokinesis – moving objects by thought alone
It means that, when faced with unexplained phenomena, they are more likely to go with their gut feelings than apply abstract reasoning to what they have seen.
A team looked at 71 studies conducted over 40 years into people who believe in hauntings, clairvoyance and psychokinesis – moving objects by thought alone.
The majority were dismissive of believers as ‘uncritical and foolish’. But by applying modern-day understanding of psychology to the findings of the studies, the researchers were able to establish that the actual evidence was not as straightforwardly conclusive.
It did not reveal shortcomings in intelligence, but instead reflected the various ways people think.
The study authors found ‘two in three studies document that paranormal beliefs are associated with poorer cognitive performance’.
However, the team said that ‘no specific profile of cognitive functioning for paranormal believers’ had emerged from the studies, which involved 20,993 participants between 1980 and 2020.
They said ‘current studies do not necessarily endorse the view by a previous researcher, Harvey Irwin [in 2009], that “…the believer in the paranormal is held variously to be illogical, irrational, credulous, uncritical, and foolish”’.
Lead researcher Charlotte Dean, of the University of Hertfordshire, said: ‘The difference between believers and sceptics seems to come from how flexible their thinking style is, and how they approach novel or abstract problems. It’s not that believers are less intelligent. It’s to do with the application of their problem-solving skills.
‘Sceptics tend to be characterised by an analytical thinking style. If you give them an abstract problem, they think of all the different ways to solve it and pick the one most likely to work. Believers are characterised by an intuitive thinking style, and go with their instinct.’
She added: ‘So if you come across an unexplained phenomenon that could be expressed as novel or abstract, they come to different conclusions whether it was paranormal or not.’
A poll in 2017 which asked adults if they believed in ghosts, ghouls, spirits and paranormal activity found 33 per cent were believers, 46 per cent non-believers and 21 per cent undecided.
Was there a spooky hand involved in this couple’s £3m lotto win
A couple who won £3.6million on the National Lottery have used it to become professional ghost-hunters.
Laura Hoyle and Kirk Stevens, 38, thought they had only scooped £5 on the Set for Life draw in March 2021 and carried on playing for two weeks before being alerted to their windfall.
Now Miss Hoyle, 40, from Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, has quit her job to work as a paranormal investigator alongside Mr Stevens, a manufacturing engineer.
She said: ‘Kirk and I are participating in lots more paranormal activities and I’m editing the videos we take, which I love doing.
Laura Hoyle and Kirk Stevens, 38, thought they had only scooped £5 on the Set for Life draw in March 2021 and carried on playing for two weeks before being alerted to their windfall
‘Without the win we wouldn’t have been able to tick off a huge bucket list item – visit the National Justice Museum in Nottingham out of hours and spend time there investigating.’
Carpenter Mr Stevens said: ‘I want to make paranormal investigation products using my woodwork and electronic skills.’