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Functions of paranormal beliefs and cultural significance

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Discuss the functions of paranormal beliefs The evolutionary approach suggests that belief in anomalous experience is an innate aspect of human behaviour. One suggestion has been that it enables individuals to stop worrying and questioning things, thus enabling them to be more productive in everyday life, increasing reproductive success. The evolutionary approach ignores the possibility that paranormal abilities such as PK may actually exist and have evolved as they provide an advantage on individuals who possess them. Although, if this was the case we'd expect to see an increase over the course of human history, and for the experiences to be linked with positive benefits. However, McClenon found that students reported more negative than positive paranormal experiences. As a result of this we can assume the conclusion that it is the belief and not the actual ability that is adaptive. ...read more.


They are referring to the way in which it provides structure and meaning, often at times in life when there might be little else to provide such a function. For example, the belief in afterlife could ease the pain of bereavement. There is an issue of gender bias in terms of individual belief in the paranormal. Rice found that females have a greater global belief in the paranormal than men, and men express more belief in UFO's and extraterrestrials. However this can be explained by sub-cultural differences, men are expected to take a greater interest in science and so this leads them to focus on more science-orientated phenomena. Therefore, this offers an alternative function for paranormal beliefs, this is that they believe in them to fit in with the rest of the group so as not to be considered an outsider. ...read more.


While many studies have found a correlation between the two, this is not true of all studies. There are aspects of other paranormal beliefs that don't form any part of religion, such as belief in UFOs. Therefore, it isn't surprising that scales measuring paranormal beliefs don't always correlate with religiosity. James Bailey's research into Hindu death rituals also shows how culture shapes attitudinal belief in the paranormal. Here, Dharma embodies a set of spiritual ideals that should be aspired to. Good acts in the present life will be rewarded by recarnation into a better position in the afterlife. Of course paranormal belief further dictates the funeral rites and death rituals . Culture is inextricably linked to belief, one dictates the other. When assessing the impact of anomalistic phenomena we must always be aware of the nature of our own beliefs, seeing ourselves influenced by the perceptions of others, and deceiving ourselves into false beliefs. Belief is a centrally critical yet difficult term to embody and research. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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