The separate roles of the reflective mind and involuntary inhibitory control in gatekeeping paranormal beliefs and the underlying intuitive confusions.

Research paper by Annika M AM Svedholm, Marjaana M Lindeman

Indexed on: 16 Jul '13Published on: 16 Jul '13Published in: British Journal of Psychology


Intuitive thinking is known to predict paranormal beliefs, but the processes underlying this relationship, and the role of other thinking dispositions, have remained unclear. Study 1 showed that while an intuitive style increased and a reflective disposition counteracted paranormal beliefs, the ontological confusions suggested to underlie paranormal beliefs were predicted by individual differences in involuntary inhibitory processes. When the reasoning system was subjected to cognitive load, the ontological confusions increased, lost their relationship with paranormal beliefs, and their relationship with weaker inhibition was strongly accentuated. These findings support the argument that the confusions are mainly intuitive and that they therefore are most discernible under conditions in which inhibition is impaired, that is, when thinking is dominated by intuitive processing. Study 2 replicated the findings on intuitive and reflective thinking and paranormal beliefs. In Study 2, ontological confusions were also related to the same thinking styles as paranormal beliefs. The results support a model in which both intuitive and non-reflective thinking styles and involuntary inhibitory processes give way to embracing culturally acquired paranormal beliefs.