The effect of paranormal involvement on game strategy/Der effekt einer paranormalen beteiligung auf eine spielstrategie/L'effet de l'implication paranormale sur la strategie de jeu/El efecto de involucramiento paranormal en la estrategia de juegos.
Abstract: This research examined the role of general and personal paranormal and religious beliefs in an online card game. Participants (N = 248) were required to choose a strategy (i.e., psychic choice or self choice) for target object selection. Participants in the low subjective probability condition were more likely to choose the psychic (M = 3.07, SD = 3.43) than participants in the high subjective probability condition (M = 1.07, SD = 1.76). Personal paranormal involvement was associated with less reliance on the psychic strategy whereas general paranormal involvement and religious involvement were associated with greater reliance on the psychic strategy. Further, participants who were more involved in their religious beliefs chose the psychic more often than participants who were less involved in their religious beliefs. Results from this study imply that researchers should differentiate between general and personal paranormal and religious beliefs.

Keywords: paranormal involvement, religion, beliefs, decision-making, individual behavior

Dieses Experiment untersuchte die Rolle allgemeiner und personlicher paranormaler und religioser Einstellungen bei einem Online-Kartenspiel. Die Teilnehmer (N = 248) sollten sich fur eine Strategie in Bezug auf die Targetauswahl entscheiden (d. h. parapsychische Auswahl oder eigene Auswahl). Teilnehmer in der geringen subjektiven Wahrscheinlichkeitsbedingung wahlten mit grosserer Wahrscheinlichkeit die parapsychische Variante (M = 3.07, SD = 3.43) als die Teilnehmer in der hohen subjektiven Wahrscheinlichkeitsbedingung (M = 1.07, SD = 1.76). Ein personliches paranormales Beteiligtsein ging einher mit einem geringeren Vertrauen in die parapsychische Strategie, wohingegen ein allgemeines paranormales und religioses Beteiligtsein mit einem grosseren Vertrauen in die parapsychische Strategie einherging. Daruberhinaus entschieden sich Teilnehmer, die in ihrem religiosen Glauben starker verankert waren, haufiger fur die parapsychische Strategie als Teilnehmer, bei denen dies nicht so sehr der Fall war. Aus den Ergebnissen dieser Studie folgt, dass Untersucher zwischen allgemeinen und personlichen paranormalen und religiosen Glaubenseinstellungen unterscheiden sollten.

Cette recherche examine le role des croyances paranormales et religieuses, generales et personnelles, dans un jeu de catres en ligne. Les participants (N = 248) devaient choisir une strategie (choix psi ou choix personnel) pour la selection de l'objet cible. Les participants dans la condition de faible probabilite subjective etaient plus enclins de choisir le choix psi (M = 3.07, ET = 3.43) que les participants dans la condition de forte probabilite subjective (M = 1.07, ET = 1.76). L'implication personnelle dans le paranormal etait associee avec moins de dependance a la strategie psi tandis que l'implication generale dans le paranormal et l'implication religieuse etaient associees avec une plus grande dependance a la strategie psi. De plus, les participants qui etaient les moins impliques dans leurs croyances religieuses ont choisi le psi plus souvent que ceux qui etaient moins impliques dans leurs croyances religieuses. Les resultats de cette etude impliquent que les chercheurs devraient differencier entre les croyances paranormales et religieuses generales et personnelles.

Esta investigacion examino el rol de creencias paranormales generales y personales y de creencias religiosas en un juego de cartas en la Red. Sele solicito a los/las participantes (N = 248) que escogieran una estrategia (i.e., una alternativa psiquica o su propia seleccion) para escoger el objetivo. Los/las participantes en la condicion de baja probabilidad subjetiva fueron mas propensos a escoger la alternativa psiquica (M = 3.07, SD = 3.43) que los/las participantes en la condicion de alta probabilidad subjetiva (M = 1.07, SD = 1.76). E1 involucramiento paranormal personal fue asociado con menos uso de la estrategia psiquica mientras que el involucramiento paranormal general y religioso fue asociado con mas uso de la estrategia psiquica. Por anadidura, los/las participantes que estaban mas involucrados con sus creencias religiosas escogieron la estrategia psiquica mas frecuentemente que los/las participantes que estaban menos involucrados en sus creencias religiosas. Los resultados de este estudio implican que se debe diferenciar entre ceencias paranormales y religiosas generales y personales.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Religion
Author: Dupuis, Erin C.
Pub Date: 09/22/2010
Publication: Name: The Journal of Parapsychology Publisher: Parapsychology Press Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Parapsychology Press ISSN: 0022-3387
Issue: Date: Fall, 2010 Source Volume: 74 Source Issue: 2
Product: Product Code: 9101217 Religion NAICS Code: 92219 Other Justice, Public Order, and Safety Activities
Accession Number: 272670916
Full Text: The great philosophers in sociology, Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, theorized that as societies became modernized they would become more complex and rational. As a result of this "modernization," nonscientific beliefs such as religion and belief in the paranormal would eventually disappear (see Berger, 2008 for a discussion). Contrary to secularization theory, in the United States, an estimated 50% of Americans believe in extrasensory perception (as cited in Wiseman & Watt, 2006) and more than 73% of Americans believe in at least one paranormal phenomenon (Gallup, 2005). In the religious realm of beliefs, nearly 44% of Americans would classify themselves as frequent church attendees (Gallup, 2007) and 77% believe in Heaven, 63% believe in Hell, and 58% believe in the Devil (General Social Survey, 2004).

The Paranormal Construct

Definitions of paranormal beliefs have varied. Literally, the Latin prefix para means "outside of' or "beyond" (Goode, 2000). In other words, paranormal events are those that cannot be explained by scientific laws or natural forces (Broad, 1953; Goode, 2000). Paranormal refers both to phenomena (events or abilities) and to beliefs (that the events actually occurred) (Goode, 2000). The definition used in this research operationalizes paranormal beliefs as beliefs in psi phenomena (ESP, telepathy, psychokinesis, clairvoyance, and precognition), which violate scientifically conceivable processes and lie outside the known realm of human capabilities (Irwin, 1993; Lawrence, 1995).

Examination of questionnaires measuring belief in paranormal abilities reveals that paranormal beliefs may be manifested in several cognitive forms, including self-belief, other-belief, and general-belief. First, individuals may believe that they have such abilities, for example, "I believe I am psychic" from the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale (ASGS) (Thalbourne & Delin, 1993). Second, they may believe that others have these abilities, for example, "Some people have the power to bend objects (e.g., spoons) with only their thoughts" from the Belief in the Paranormal Scale (Jones, Russell, & Nickel, 1977). They may also believe that such abilities exist in general, for example, "Mind reading is not possible" from the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale (RPBS) (Tobacyk, 2004). The focus of this research is to determine whether participants' beliefs in self or other paranormal ability predicts strategy choice in an online game paradigm.

Religion's Relation to Paranormal Beliefs

Another theory in the parapsychological research is that cultural influences may cause the endorsement of paranormal beliefs. Religion is one such powerful cultural influence, which may be related to belief in the paranormal. Religion is a powerful predictor of a wide range of behavior and social attitudes (Dillon & Wink, 2003). There are similar parallels between religion and paranormality, including, first, an emphasis on rejection of the material and acceptance of the spiritual and, second, a belief in nonempirical truths (Goode, 2000). Certain characteristics of Eastern religions are, in themselves, paranormal, including faith-healing, miracles, reincarnation, and visions (Goode, 2000; Wain & Spinella, 2007). Individuals who believe in paranormal phenomena are also more likely to accept a spiritual orientation to life (Goode, 2000).

Religious individuals and believers in the paranormal must believe in that which cannot be scientifically proven and must rely on faith in certain beliefs. Even in the face of irrefutable evidence, there is often a strong tendency to believe. For example, Singer and Benassi (1986) found that, even after informing participants that the "magic" they had witnessed was replicable and pretend, participants still strongly maintained their beliefs that an actor's performance was indicative of his psychic abilities. Interestingly, many students pointed to their religious beliefs as the explanation for their acceptance of the actor's psychic ability (e.g., "I am a Christian and I feel strongly that ESP or anything dealing with that is of Satan") (Singer & Benassi, 1986, p. 62).

The results of research that has examined the association between religious beliefs and paranormal beliefs has been mixed. Some researchers have found that religious participants more strongly endorse paranormal beliefs (Goode, 2000; Hergovich, Schott, & Arendasy, 2005; Thalbourne, Dunbar, & Delin, 1995; Tobacyk & Milford, 1983; Wain & Spinella, 2007), whereas some researchers have found that "nonreligious" participants tend to endorse paranormal phenomena more strongly (Aarnio & Lindeman, 2007; Bainbridge & Stark, 1980; Beck & Miller, 2001). Other researchers have claimed that paranormal beliefs are a substitute for traditional religious beliefs (Emmons & Sobal, 1981; Harrold & Eve, 1986; Wuthnow, 1978). Results obtained by Hergovich et al. (2005) partially support the substitution hypothesis; however, they claim that paranormal belief can be, but is not necessarily, a substitute for traditional religion. Yamane and Polzer (1994) found that participants who were religiously involved (i.e., church attendance and prayer) were more likely to report paranormal experiences related to religion (such as ecstatic experiences).

Why is it important to study paranormal or religious beliefs? Putting aside the pervasiveness of these beliefs, one might consider the psychological advantages and disadvantages of endorsing nonscientific beliefs. Many studies have found that beliefs in the paranormal are associated with poor psychological adjustment, including irrational beliefs (Roig, Bridges, Renner, & Jackson, 1998), high trait anxiety (Wolfradt, 1997), psychopathology and dissociation (Dag, 1999; Gow, Lang & Chant, 2004), and low self-efficacy (Tobacyk & Shrader, 1991). However, other researchers have found that paranormal beliefs, guided by motivations and needs, are related to higher levels of well-being, happiness, confidence, and spirituality (Kennedy, Kanthamani, & Palmer, 1994). Goulding (2004, 2005) has argued that researchers examining schizotypy in relation to paranormal beliefs have not studied the full multidimensional construct; using the full dimensional construct results in neutral to healthy models of schizotypy associated with paranormal beliefs. Similarly, researchers in the field of religious beliefs have found that higher levels of religiosity are positively associated with greater levels of happiness (Abdel-Khalek, 2006), self-esteem (Keyes & Reitzes, 2007), optimism (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2007), physical health, and mental health (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2007). Religiosity has been found to be negatively associated with alcohol use (Rostosky, Danner, & Riggle, 2007), depression (Keyes & Reitzes, 2007), pessimism, and suicidal ideation (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2007). McCullough and Smith (2003) reported that individuals with high levels of religiousness reported lower levels of depression. Religious attendance has also been associated with lower "hazard of death" (McCullough & Smith, 2003, p. 194) from various causes, including suicide (Hummer, Rogers, Nam, & Ellison, 1999; Martin, 1984; Strawbridge, Cohen, Shema, & Kaplan, 1997). These results can also be partially attributed to the integrative capacities of religion in providing individuals with social networks that give a sense of belonging to and satisfaction with the community (Martinson, Wilkening, & Buttel, 1982).

This research sought to further examine the relation between paranormal beliefs and religious beliefs. Would religiously inclined individuals be more likely to strongly endorse paranormal beliefs? From a narrower viewpoint, would personal or general paranormal beliefs be more strongly related to religious beliefs? Further, would religious believers (in relation to paranormal believers) also be more likely to rely on a paranormal strategy in a card-guessing task?

Reasoning Errors and the Paranormal Strategy Paradigm

One theory postulates that high believers in the paranormal make more reasoning errors than nonbelievers (Blackmore & Troscianko, 1985; Blagrove, French, & Jones, 2006; Brugger, Landis, & Regard, 1990; Dagnall, Parker, & Munley, 2007; Roberts & Seager, 1999; Wierzbicki, 1985) and are less able to think critically (Gray & Mill, 1990). According to the probability misjudgment theory, paranormal beliefs may actually make participants more likely to misjudge probabilities, which may lead believers to illusory predictions--believing they can predict random events (Blackmore & Troscianko, 1985; Blagrove et al., 2006; Matthews & Blackmore, 1995; Sutherland, 1992). The results of previous research have suggested that believers are less likely than nonbelievers to either incorrectly judge probability rates or to accept that repetitive events happen by chance (Brugger et al., 1990; Williams & Irwin, 1991). This latter suggestion is supported by research findings that participants who give self-reports of belief in ESP are more likely to underestimate chance baseline than are nonbelievers in a random game of chance (Blackmore & Troscianko, 1985).

However, the probability misjudgment theory has been contested. Roe (1999) failed to find any evidence that paranormal believers are deficient at critical thinking or reasoning. Instead, Roe (1999) argued that cognitive dissonance could account for participants' low ratings of research reports related to ESP or subliminal perception if they believed those reports to be incongruent with their attitudes. When cognitive abilities are controlled for in games of chance, often the relation between paranormal beliefs and errors in probabilistic judgments disappears; these results suggest that differences in cognitive ability can account for paranormal beliefs (Musch & Ehrenberg, 2002). Other research has supported the finding that probability misjudgments are negated once education and cognitive ability have been controlled (Bressan, 2002). Similarly, other research has supported the finding that probability misjudgments are not significant predictors of paranormal beliefs (Roberts & Seager, 1999). Dagnall et al. (2007) argued that the probability misjudgment hypothesis has only been studied in a partial way given the type of problems used to assess such misjudgments. They concluded that errors in probabilistic reasoning are conducive to paranormal beliefs, but only those errors related to misperception of randomness. Their results support the theory that high paranormal believers are more likely to discount the role of chance than nonbelievers (Brugger et al., 1990; Williams & Irwin, 1991). High paranormal believers, therefore, are more likely to believe that they can predict chance outcomes.

To investigate the concept of perceived control and reasoning errors in relation to paranormal or superstitious strategies, Case, Fitness, Cairns, and Stevenson (2004) researched whether superstitious strategies in a chance-determined card-guessing task were associated with primary or secondary control. Seventy-eight participants were permitted to use a psychic's, another student's, or an academic's card selections instead of making their own selections. The participants were told that a certain number of the cards were red and that they needed to choose a red card, for example, "7 of the 8 cards are red, pick a red card." The subjective probabilities were 7:8, 6:8, 4:8, 2:8, and 1:8. Participants' use of a superstitious strategy (a psychic's selections) increased significantly with the perceived likelihood of failure, regardless of belief in psychic ability.

As participants became aware that they had a low probability of guessing the correct card (i.e., the chances of correctly guessing were 1 out of 8 compared to 7 out of 8), the need to regain control became increasingly salient and, therefore, the use of superstitious strategies may have represented attempts at secondary control. The individuals chose superstitious strategies, not necessarily believing they would work (they rated the psychic's ability as low), but needing the comfort of a feeling of control when the probability of success was low (Case et ai., 2004).

The experimental methodology designed by Case and colleagues was used in the following study. Although the purpose of the current study was not to investigate participants' illusions of control, it was hypothesized that participants would choose the psychic selection using a betweensubjects design. We further wanted to determine whether participants' beliefs in their own paranormal abilities would affect card choice and result in errors in reasoning.

The Present Study

The basic purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the results from Case and colleagues would replicate using a between-subjects design. The second purpose was to investigate how individual differences (such as paranormal and religious beliefs and involvement) would affect participant strategy choice. It was hypothesized that (1) individuals with high personal paranormal involvement (i.e., performance of psychic services as well as the belief in own psychic abilities) would choose the psychic less often than individuals with low personal involvement. Further, it was hypothesized that (2) participants with only general paranormal involvement (i.e., having used a psychic in the past, but not being personally involved) would choose the psychic more often based upon past experience than participants with low general involvement.

In terms of religious beliefs, ir was hypothesized that (3) religiosity would be positively related to belief in the paranormal (see MacDonald, 1995; Yamane & Polzer, 1994). Further, ir was expected that (4) participants who were higher in religious involvement (e.g., church attendance and religiosity) would rely less on the selections of a psychic. Past research has indicated that individuals with high religious involvement exhibit higher levels of perceived control, which should lead to more reliance on the self.



The sample consisted of 248 participants (62% female). Participants were recruited using several different methods. First, every fifth group listed in each category of Yahoo Groups was selected, although selection was also dependent upon group rules (no spam postings) and the function of the group (only very specific topics allowed as postings). The moderators of these groups were emailed and asked if they could forward the link of the survey to their listserv. Second, the link was posted on several psychology websites. Each participant was given a unique ID, which was not linked to any personal information, ensuring complete anonymity of participants. Furthermore, the researcher opted not to collect IP addresses, which could be used to track participants. Third, students were recruited from the subject pool of a large public university in the Northeast and were given extra credit by their professors for their participation.

Of the participants, 64% were aged 18-24, 25% were aged 2539, and 11% were older than 40. Further, 29% were Catholic, 29% were Protestant/Methodist/Baptist, and 32% had no religious affiliation or labeled themselves "spiritual." In terms of education, 39.5% had completed college (only 7% had stopped their education after high school). When participants were asked to rate their own psychic abilities (from 1 = "don't have any" to 10 = "excellent"), only 51% said they didn't have psychic abilities and 12.5% rated their psychic abilities above a 5 (M = 2.29, SD = 1.85). Additionally, 55.3% of participants had used a psychic service at least once and 31.9% had performed at least one psychic service such as tarot card or palm reading (M = .65, SD = 1.26).


Study 1 used a between-subjects design based upon the paradigm developed by Case and colleagues (2004). Participants were given 10 trials and asked to select the correct card out of 8 cards. Due to concerns that participants would become suspicious about several high versus low probability trials, participants were placed in one of two conditions. The probability of success was either 1:8 (Condition 1--Low Probability) or 7:8 (Condition 2--High Probability). Participants were not able to compare probabilities from trial to trial, nor were they given feedback about their success or failure. On each trial, the participants were told they could either pick a card themselves or have somebody else choose a card for them. The "psychic" was an individual reported as having been tested for and exhibiting psychic abilities. There was no "psychic" nor were there any previously existing selections. Participants were not given feedback about whether their choice was correct. The purpose of the study was less to assess whether participants actually could choose a correct card (in fact, there were no correct cards) and more to assess the role of personal and general paranormal and religious beliefs on selection strategy.


Participants were also asked to complete several questionnaires. The 20-item Belief in the Paranormal Scale (Jones, Russell, & Nickel, 1977; modified by Presson & Benassi) was administered to assess paranormal beliefs. The range of possible scores is 20-100. The scale taps participants' beliefs about psychic phenomena in general, ESP, telepathy, and precognition. Seven of the questions were designed to tap self-paranormal abilities. Reliability of the scale was high ([alpha] = .94), M = 48.33, SD = 14.61. The Belief in the Paranormal Scale was used over the ASGS and the RPBS because it allows for the evaluation of general as well as personal/self paranormal beliefs. To assess personal paranormal involvement, the self-paranormal ability subscale was used in addition to questions concerning whether participants had ever performed psychic services. Participants were also asked if they had ever used psychic services; these questions were totaled to develop a general involvement subscale (i.e., they had used paranormal services, but had not actually performed these services).

Religiosity was assessed using the 12-item Religiousness Scale (Strayhorn, Weidman, & Larson, 1990). The reliability of the scale was high ([alpha] = .93), M = 24.71, SD = 10.13. All 12 items from the scale were given to participants; however, religious involvement was assessed by examining responses related to worship attendance and frequency of prayer. Past research examining religious involvement has used church attendance and prayer as measures of personal involvement in religious beliefs (Yamane & Polzer, 1994).

Additionally, to control for context effects, after completing the online experiment portion of this study, participants completed several distraction filler tasks including the Morally Debatable Behaviors Scale (Harding & Phillips, 1986) and several word jumble problems. Participants were also asked demographic information including age, education, gender, psychic services used, psychic services performed, and their own perceived psychic ability. Finally, participants were also asked to indicate their estimation of the actual probability of being personally able to select the correct target object. This variable "probability judgment" was coded according to whether participants' judgments were 1 = too low, 2 = correct, and 3 = too high.


Participants were told they were participating in an experiment researching the cognitive processes involved in online decision-making. Ali participants were told they would be entered into a drawing to win a $25 online gift certificate. After completing the experiment (approximately 10-15 minutes), participants indicated their judgment of the probability they could choose a target object successfully, and then they completed the filler tasks, the Belief in the Paranormal Scale, Religionsness Scale, and then the demographic questions. When participants hit the "done" button, they were taken to a page that was separate from the experimental survey. This page included the debriefing form and a drawing entry form. Participants who wanted to enter the drawing were asked to fill in their personal information, including name and e-mail address.


To evaluate if participants varied in their selection of the psychic based upon probability using a between-subjects design, an ANOVA was conducted with condition as the independent variable and total number of psychic selections as the dependent variable. There was a significant effect of condition, F(1,239) = 29.86, p < .001. Participants in the low subjective probability condition were more likely to choose the psychic (M = 3.07, SD = 3.43) than participants in the high subjective probability condition (M = 1.07, SD = 1.76).

To evaluate whether participant demographics (age, gender, education, and religious affiliation), the scales (paranormal beliefs and religiosity), and the subscales (general paranormal involvement, personal paranormal involvement, and religions involvement) as well as participants' probability judgments were related in the overall sample, Pearson's bivariate correlations were performed (Table 1, Bonferroni-corrected [PC.sub.a] level .05/45 = .001 significant correlations are indicated). The paranormal involvement items were broken down into two subscale scores: the 7 self-belief items from the paranormal beliefs scale and the 8 items indicating performance of a psychic service were forced onto one subscale score labeled personal involvement ([alpha] = .84) and the 8 items indicating general use of a psychic service in the past were forced onto one subscale score labeled general involvement ([alpha] = .62). Religious involvement was assessed using the total score for frequency of worship attendance and frequency of prayer.

A few interesting correlations did emerge from the analysis. Age was negatively correlated with religiosity, as well as with religious involvement; younger participants were less likely to be religious and less likely to attend religious services or pray. There was a negative correlation between age and general paranormal beliefs; older participants were less likely to be generally involved (e.g., using a psychic service) than younger participants. Further, a positive correlation emerged between age and probability judgment, indicating that older participants were more likely to overestimate the probability of choosing a correct object. However, one must be careful in drawing conclusions from the correlations related to age, not only because correlations are not causation, but also due to the large (64%) sample of participants between the ages of 18-24.

There was a negative correlation between education and paranormal beliefs; participants with more education were less likely to endorse paranormal beliefs. There was also a positive correlation between education and probability judgments; participants who were more educated were more likely to overestimate their probability of correctly choosing the target object. Finally, there was a positive correlation between general paranormal involvement and probability judgment. Participants who were generally involved in their paranormal beliefs were more likely to overestimate the probability of correctly guessing a target object.

A standard multiple regression was conducted to assess whether paranormal beliefs and paranormal involvement would predict total psychic selection (see Table 2). The total number of times the psychic was selected on the 10 trials (total psychic selection) was used as the predicted variable and the following variables were used as predictors: general paranormal beliefs (the total of the paranormal belief scale without the inclusion of the self-belief items), personal paranormal involvement (performing psychic services and belief in personal psychic ability), and general paranormal involvement (using a psychic service in the past). The high-probability condition lacked variability (the psychic was chosen on only 10% of the trials) ; therefore, it was excluded from analyses.

The overall regression for the low-probability condition was statistically significant, R = .377, [R.sup.2] = .142, adjusted [R.sup.2] = .118, F (3,106) = 5.85, p = .001. To assess the statistical significance of the contributions of individual predictors, the t ratios for the individual regression slopes were examined. The three predictors were all significantly predictive of total psychic selection (number of times the psychic was chosen out of 10 trials). Paranormal beliefs was statistically significant, [beta] = .36, t(106) = 2.20, p = .030; as expected, the positive sign for the slope indicated that participants with higher scores on the paranormal belief scale chose the psychic more often than participants with lower scores. Personal paranormal involvement was statistically significant, [beta] = -.37, t(106) = -2.14, p = .034; as expected, the negative sign for the slope indicated that participants who were more personally involved in their paranormal beliefs (i.e., believing they had their own psychic abilities as well as performing psychic services) relied on the psychic less often than participants with lower scores. Finally, general paranormal involvement was also statistically significant, [beta] = .36, t(106) = 3.55, p = .001; as expected, the positive sign for the slope indicated that participants scoring higher on general paranormal involvement chose the psychic more often than participants scoring lower.

A standard multiple regression was conducted to assess whether religious beliefs and religious involvement would predict total psychic selection (see Table 3).

The total number of times the psychic was selected out of 10 trials was used as the predicted variable, and the following variables were used as predictor variables: religious beliefs and religious involvement (i.e., frequency of worship attendance and frequency of prayer totaled and then median split into high and low based upon past research). The overall regression for the low-probability condition was not statistically significant, R = .228, [R.sup.2] = .052, adjusted [R.sup.2] = .035, F (2, 108) = 2.97, p = .056. Religious involvement did, however, emerge as a significant predictor variable, t(108) = 2.43, p = .017. The predictive nature of religious involvement to total psychic selection was not as expected; participants who were more religiously involved chose the psychic more often than participants who were less religiously involved.


Participants in the low probability of success condition were more likely to choose the psychic strategy than participants in the high probability of success condition. This is supportive of the research conducted by Case and colleagues (2004). The hypothesis that participants with higher paranormal beliefs would choose the psychic more often than those with lower beliefs was supported. Further, both hypotheses related to paranormal involvement were supported; participants with more personal paranormal involvement chose the psychic less often than did participants with less involvement. These participants had performed a psychic service in the past and were also more likely to believe that they had their own psychic ability. It is not surprising that they would believe they could predict the hidden object's location. On the other hand, participants with more general paranormal involvement chose the psychic more often than those with less general involvement. These participants had used a psychic service in the past, and, thus, it is probable that they expected the psychic to be able to predict the object's location.

The hypothesis that higher paranormal beliefs would be positively associated with higher religious beliefs was not supported; there was no association between any of the paranormal variables and any of the religious variables. Although the overall regression to predict total psychic selection from the religious variables was not statistically significant, the hypothesis that higher religious involvement would be associated with choosing the psychic less often was supported, but in a direction opposite of that expected. Participants who were more religiously involved chose the psychic more often than participants who were less involved.

Younger participants were also more generally involved in their paranormal beliefs than older participants; this result was not expected, but may be due to the availability of psychic services at campus events and as campus entertainment. Age was not associated with personal paranormal involvement. These findings concerning age are important given that many past studies have been conducted using samples of college students. This research supports past research that younger individuals are less religious than older individuals; however, it also supports past research that age is not positively correlated with paranormal beliefs (Goritz & Schumacher, 2000; Haraldsson, 1981).

It might be argued that participants were simply deflecting responsibility to another individual (e.g., the psychic) when their probability of failure was high; however, Case and colleagues (2004) addressed this issue by including two other possible choices for selection strategy. In their study, participants were given the choice of a psychic's, academic's, or student's preexisting selections. Participants were still more likely to choose the psychic than the academic or student, indicating that participants were not simply responding based upon attributional biases (Case et al., 2004).

The results of this research further emphasize the need to consider paranormal involvement in studies of paranormal beliefs (Benassi, Sweeney, & Drevno, 1979; Irwin, 1993; McGarry & Newberry, 1981; Messer and Griggs, 1989). Participants with higher personal paranormal involvement and those with lower religious involvement chose the psychic less often than participants with lower paranormal or higher religious involvement. General paranormal involvement, however, was associated with choosing the psychic more often. Participants with higher personal paranormal involvement were those who believed that they possessed psychic ability; as such, it would not make sense for them to choose the psychic's selections.

Another implication of this research relates to the findings regarding age. Although age was not associated with paranormal beliefs, which supports past research (Goritz & Schumacher, 2000; Haraldsson, 1981), it was associated with religious beliefs and paranormal involvement. Younger participants were less religious and less likely to be personally involved in their paranormal beliefs; however, younger participants were more likely to be generally involved in their paranormal beliefs. Younger participants may have more opportunities to use psychic services on their college campuses. Campus activity boards often book psychic entertainment such as palm readers, fortunetellers, or mediums for small- and large-scale events. The results regarding age are important given that much of the data related to paranormal beliefs has been drawn from undergraduate college samples. These results support past research that involvement is an important variable and that undergraduates differ from the general population in their levels of involvement (McGarry & Newberry, 1981; Messer & Griggs, 1989).

There were limitations related to the studies conducted in this research. First, Internet research limited the available number of questions that could be asked in order to avoid participant dropout. It would have been useful to include a second measure of paranormal beliefs such as the revised Paranormal Belief Scale (PBS-R; Tobacyk, 1988). The PBS-R taps psi phenomena in addition to beliefs about witchcraft and traditional religious beliefs. There are also sample issues that must be taken into account with online research, such as repeat responders and nonserious responses. However, comparative analyses of traditional methods versus Internet methods indicate that nonserious and/or repeat responders do not affect data significantly (Gosling, Vazire, Srivastava, & John, 2004). Gosling and colleagues (2004) argued that Internet findings are consistent with findings from traditional methods and pose no serious issues in validity or reliability beyond those found in traditional studies; however, Internet studies offer the additional advantage of a more diverse sample.

Another limitation involves the question about the psychic services used. The use of psychic services is not necessarily indicative of involvement in the paranormal. Many college campuses offer entertainment to students in the form of persons claiming to be psychics. It is not surprising that many participants had used at least one psychic service. It may have been more telling to ask participants how many services they had used in addition to how often they have used these services. Future research may also want to inquire as to how often participants watch television shows related to the paranormal, such as shows in which David Blaine or Criss Angel purport to be able to do extraordinary feats.

Future research should also examine paranormal strategy selection after positive affect mood inducements to determine if strategy and paranormal beliefs are related to the experiential system, especially given recent findings that paranormal believers are just as able as skeptics to regulate their emotional coping (Rogers, Qualter, Phelps, & Gardner, 2006). High paranormal believers may be individuals who have perceived paranormal phenomena and relied on the experiential/intuitive system to process these phenomena. This reliance on the experiential system may have caused them to label these events as valid (King, Burton, Hicks, & Drigotas, 2007); therefore, high believers might be even more likely to believe that the psychic is able to predict chance events.

In conclusion, this research contributes a wider body of research related to religious and paranormal beliefs. The findings support past research by emphasizing the need to consider paranormal and religious involvement in studies of paranormal and religious beliefs (Benassi et al., 1979; Irwin, 1993; McGarry & Newberry, 1981; Messer & Griggs, 1989; Shrauger & Silverman, 1971). Kennedy (2003) further emphasizes the need to examine psi effects as divine interventions versus human abilities for individuals high in religiosity. Future research may want to also consider religious involvement in terms of quality and quantity of prayer in addition to church attendance.

The results from these studies close some gaps in the literature concerning religion and decision-making. Participants who were more religiously involved were more likely to choose the psychic. This research also closes some gaps regarding the relation between involvement, beliefs, and decision-making. Past research has not differentiated between personal and general involvement in terms of paranormal beliefs. This research has shown that inclusion of personal paranormal involvement leads to very different results when compared to general paranormal involvement. Participants who were more personally involved chose the psychic less often, whereas participants who were more generally involved chose the psychic more often.

During times of uncertainty (i.e., life seems unpredictable, or during times of negative life experiences), people may be particularly vulnerable to individuals who claim to have psychic abilities, such as psychic hotline operators or fortunetellers. Use of psychic hotlines and call numbers may not seem like an important facet of American life until one considers that the psychic industry earns well over a billion dollars every year (Nickel & Nisbett, 1998). Given the prevalence of religious and paranormal beliefs and the billion-dollar industries that have sprung up to take advantage of people's vulnerabilities based upon these beliefs, it is important that researchers study the errors in decision-making that result from nonscientific beliefs.


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Loyola University New Orleans

Psychology Department

Box 194

New Orleans, LA 70118

                      1         2          3          4
1.   Gender
2.   Age            -.13
3.   Education      -.16 *   -.53 ***
4.   Affiliation    -.12      .28 *      .22 **
5.   Religiosity     .06     -.18 **    -.11       -.44 ***
6.   Rel. involve    .07     -.17 *      .02       -.39 ***
7.   Par. beliefs    .11     -.05       -.23 ***   -.12
8.   PI              .10      .07       -.16 *      .01
9.   GI              .13     -.28 ***    .02        .04
10.  Probability    -.07      .30 ***    .23 ***    .16 *

                       5        6        7         8        9
1.   Gender
2.   Age
3.   Education
4.   Affiliation
5.   Religiosity
6.   Rel. involve    .88 ***
7.   Par. beliefs    .10       -.02
8.   PI              .09       -.04   .84 ***
9.   GI              .02       -.02   .29 ***   .57 ***   .16 *
10.  Probability    -.01       -.05   .05       .12

Note. PI = personal paranormal involvement, GI = general
paranormal involvement.

* p < .05. ** p < .01. *** Bonferroni corrected p < .001


      TPS     GPB    PI     GI       b     [beta]   sub unique]

GPB    .17                         .14 *     .417      .04
PI     .09     .84               -1.38 *    -.382      .04
GI     .32     .34   .44           .69 *     .248      .10
M     3.34   31.31   .00   1.99
SD    3.56    9.30   .96   1.84
                                                  [R.sup.2] = .14
                                            [R.sup.2.sub.adj] = .12

Note. TPS = total psychic selection, GPB = general paranormal
beliefs, PI = personal paranormal involvement, and GI = general
paranormal involvement. TPS based upon selection out of 10 trials.

* p<.05


     TPS     RB      RI      b       [beta]    sub.unique

RB   -.01                  -.06      -.18          .02
RI    .18     .59          2.01 *     .28          .05
M    3.31   24.77   1.58
SD   3.55   10.99    .50
                                         [R.sup.2] = .05
                                      [R.sup.2.sub.Adj] = .04
                                           R = .29

Note. TPS = total psychic selection, RB = religious beliefs,
RI = religious involvement. TPS based upon selection out of
10 trials.

* p <.05, ** p < .01
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