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Factors underlying anomalous experience

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Evaluate cognitive factors underlying anomalous experience. A considerable amount of research has explored the possibility that cognitive biases may underlie paranormal experiences and belief. Gray found that believers have significantly lower levels of academic performance than sceptics. Research has also found that believers perform less well on tests of syllogistic reasoning. However, The finding that poor cognitive poor ability is linked with anomalous experience hasn't been confirmed in all studies. Many researchers are unable to replicate their findings and some researchers have found the opposite, that believers are more intelligent. It was found in a survey of 1500 readers of 'New Scientist', intelligent people whom we expect to be non-believers that 67% regarded ESP as an established fact or a likely possibility. In conclusion, with the exception of syllogistic reasoning research does not support a difference in terms of general cognitive ability. Believers underestimate the probability that certain events may simply happen by chance and thus reject coincidence as an explanation for paranormal events. ...read more.


Williams found a link between neuroticism and paranormal beliefs. Research in this area may suggest that belief in the paranormal is in some sense pathological. However, links have not been found with other mental disorders such as depression. Auton et al suggest it is mistaken to portray paranormal beliefs as pathological. We must be careful not to label or regard this negatively, in fact some research has found links between positive mental states and paranormal belief. Allen and Lester found a link between external locus of control and paranormal belief. Researchers have noted that the link is dependent on the type of paranormal belief. For example, spiritualism correlates positively with an external locus of control, whereas ESP correlates negatively with an external locus of control. There is also evidence to support the opposite relationship. Davies and Kirkby found a positive correlation between an internal locus of control and paranormal belief. Honorton et al. carried out a meta-analysis of 60 published studies relating to extra-version and ESP performance and found an overall positive correlation. ...read more.


Don and Warren looked at the function of delta waves and theta waves, suggesting that low cortical arousal might be a factor in an individual's success in psi tasks. Some researchers have focused on the function of the right hemisphere. However, other researchers such as Broughton, have focused their attentions more on the function of the left hemisphere. In the 1980s the breadth of investigative scope grew to include neuro-physiological understanding. Gordon introduced the cognitive laterality battery - a task that allows exact measurements of specific cognitive functions known to be associated with specific hemispheres. While the focuses within biological and physiological influences may vary, one thing seems sure, that there is scope to argue that all influences play a role in the anomalistic ability. However, the singular focus that biology places on the factors that seem to be involved lays it open to critical charges of determinism and reductionism. Investigations in this area seem to ignore larger societal influences that could equally shape anomalistic experience. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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This is short but quite concise essay. There is much more detail that the writer could go into but as a short essay it covers some basic points about paranormal beliefs. The score would be higher if the writer had referenced all the work properly and gone into more detail about the research.

Score 3*

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 05/09/2013

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