Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 1994

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Marc Pratarelli

Abstract

The extent of belief in variety of psychic phenomena (PSI) was examined with regard to the religious orientation of students enrolled in general psychology and undergraduate classes at a small Midwestern university. Religious orientation was divided into three categories: orthodox Christian believers, unorthodox religious believers, and the nonreligious including agnostics and atheists. A correlation and regression analysis was conducted by using the Paranormal Belief Scale by Tobacyk and Milford (1983), the Inventory of Psychic Beliefs and Experiences by Atkinson (1993), and the Christian Orthodoxy Scale by Fullerton (1982). Additional variables included were the influence of the media, belief in scientism, and personal PSI experiences. It was hypothesized that there would be a significant difference between the orthodox and unorthodox endorsement of beliefs in the psychic; this was not borne out. It was also hypothesized that the orthodox and non-religious would have negative correlations, and the unorthodox would have a positive correlation with psychic belief. All the religious orientations had a small positive correlation with overall psychic belief. The hypothesis that men and women would believe in psychic phenomena at the same level was also contraindicated as women believed in more of the phenomena. The results indicated that orthodox Christians may be open to PSI beliefs regardless of any teachings against the “occult” in their churches. The Theory that the unorthodox seek to compensate for their lack of traditional belief by their belief in PSI phenomena was no supported. However, it was also not disproved. Another factor influencing paranormal belief was the mass media’s plethora of presentations caring those types of themes. This did compensate for the orthodox effect and emerged from regression analysis as the most salient influence on belief in psychic phenomena. Belief in scientism did affect belief in PSI phenomena as all believers in scientism were non-believers in psychic phenomena, but the number of believers in scientism was too small to draw any conclusions on a statistical basis. Personal psychic experience was not the most salient factor, as had been hypothesized. Some individuals who had claimed psychic experience denied psychic belief.

Rights

Copyright 1994 Carol Dewey

Comments

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