Paranormal Experience or Reality Impaired?
Harvey Irwin, an Australian psychologist, has been studying belief in the paranormal for many years. One of his many research studies examines how belief in the paranormal predicts to a tendency to imagine physical sensations or other senses. Irwin’s results show that various types of paranormal belief contribute as much as 36% towards this imagination tendency.
On examination, people with belief in witchcraft have the highest relationship to imaginary sensation, followed by traditional paranormal beliefs and new age philosophy. Beliefs that only predicted about 10% of this imagination tendency were superstition, belief in aliens, and religious belief.
Do these findings mean that all people who have paranormal happenings imagined their experience? Not necessarily. Irwin goes on to explain that people who have a deficit in reality testing (imaginary tendencies) may have an experience and leap to the conclusion that the experience was paranormal. He also states that people with paranormal beliefs represent a wide and different body of people. Thus, his findings may not apply to everyone. Irwin concludes that critical thinking and reasoning should be used to analyze any type of paranormal event.
Irwin, J. (2004). Reality testing and the formation of paranormal beliefs: A Constructive replication. Journal for the Society of Psychical Research, 68, 143-152.
Contributed By: Brian Laythe