Dagnall and colleagues conducted a study to examine how beliefs and suggestion could influence the belief that a location was haunted. More specifically, these researchers were interested in how people’s degree of paranormal belief, and tendency to see or hear the unexplained (AKA reality testing) might influence their belief that a place was haunted.
These researchers further studied how a suggestion about a location as either haunted or as having structural problems influenced participants beliefs about the location. The interesting twist of the study is that the location was entirely fictitious. Virtual pictures and a tour of the fictitious location was provided in a laboratory environment. Thus, outside rumors or beliefs about a “real” haunted location could not influence participant’s responses.
What did these researchers find? Results showed that paranormal belief and reality testing affected beliefs about a haunted location, but not the suggestion given by the experimenters about the location as haunted or not. Thus, belief in paranormal phenomena, and not the suggested history of a location seems to relate to beliefs in a location being haunted.
Dagnall, N., Drinkwater, K, Denovan, A., & Parker, A. (2015). Suggestion, belief in the paranormal, proneness to reality testing deficits, and perception of an allegedly haunted building. Journal of Parapsychology, 79, 87-104.