'When you believe in things you don't understand' : an evolutionary exploration of paranormal, superstitious and religious belief
Belief in the paranormal is a ubiquitous phenomenon throughout the world. However, valid evolutionary reasons to account for such beliefs are limited in their ability to fully explain all types of paranormal belief. In order to test the hypothesis that superstitious beliefs may have evolved as a by-product of a mind mechanism that promotes sociality and social intelligence survey data were collected. Furthermore, a second hypothesis was tested in opposition to the first. This hypothesis sought to illustrate that any negative impact on sociality caused by paranormal belief would require that the benefits of holding such beliefs be far greater than the costs of impaired social ability. Level of social ability was measured using the Tromso Social Intelligence Scale, the Revised Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test and the Revised Experiences in Close Relationships measure. Results for global paranormal beliefs were weak, but supported the second hypothesis. Further analysis showed that two factors from the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale, superstitious belief and traditional religious beliefs, showed consistent statistical significance. Belief in superstitions was negatively correlated with measures of sociality, whereas traditional religious beliefs were positively correlated with measures of sociality. These results indicated that these two types of paranormal beliefs have different effects on sociality. Further investigation into these differences may be beneficial. Further implications for an evolutionary model of paranormal beliefs are discussed.
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Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Moncrieff, Michael Arthur, "'When you believe in things you don't understand' : an evolutionary exploration of paranormal, superstitious and religious belief" (2010). HIM 1990-2015. 1086.