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Paranormal beliefs, religious beliefs and personality correlates

Previous studies have investigated the personality correlates of both paranormal beliefs and religious beliefs finding Neuroticism (Thalbourne, Dunbar and Delin, 1995) and Extraversion associated with the former (Thalbourne, 1981; Eysenck, 1967; Thalbourne and Haraldsson, 1980) and low Psychoticism (Agreeableness and Conscientiousness in the Five Factor Model) associated with the latter (see the meta-analysis by Saroglou, 2002). The present study sought to replicate and extend previous research by examining not just the personality correlates of the two but the relationship between paranormal beliefs and religiosity also. This was performed using the NEO-PI-R (Costa and McCrae, 1978, 1992, 1995), the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale (RPBS; Tobayck, 1988) and using for the first time with a UK sample, the Post-Critical Belief Scale (PCBS) developed by Hutsebaut and his colleagues to measure religiosity (1996, 1997, 2000). The internal consistency of the PCBS was found to be more than adequate (Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.77) for this sample (N = 65). A significant relationship between paranormal beliefs and religiosity was found with the belief in a transcendent reality forwarded as a possible underlying explanation for this result. With regard to personality factors, only Conscientiousness was significantly (negatively) correlated with paranormal beliefs – a contrast to the previous studies mentioned, while Agreeableness was positively correlated with religiosity providing partial support for previous studies that have found Psychoticism associated with it, as highlighted in the meta-analysis by Saroglou (2002). Previous studies had also indicated gender differences with respect to paranormal beliefs with females showing greater endorsement (Clarke, 1991; Rice, 2003; Tobayck and Milford, 1983). However, no significant differences were found in this study.

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