Finding the Curve: Paranormal Beliefs and Religiosity

Bader, Baker, and Molle recently examined the strange relationship between religious practice and belief in the paranormal. Unlike previous work, these researchers demonstrate a curved relationship between paranormal beliefs and religious practice. Essentially, those who do not practice religion and those who heavily practice religion have low paranormal belief scores. However, those who are moderately invested in religion have high degrees of paranormal beliefs. Their study found this relationship in both America and Italy.


The question remains: why would paranormal belief decrease after a moderate degree of religious commitment? Bader and colleagues explain that religious institutions are invested in a central set of beliefs within their church or synagogue. As such, the more members of religious institutions attend, the more they are actively trained to not believe in the paranormal or that the paranormal is evil or wrong in contrast to their religious belief.


The take-home message from this research is that while paranormal beliefs tend to be private and self-determined, large amounts of religious practice tend to negate those beliefsĀ or deem them evil.

Submitted by Brian Laythe


Bader, C. D., Baker, J. O., & Molle, A. (2012). Countervailing forces: Religiosity and paranormal belief in Italy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51(4), 705-720.

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