For Researchers, It’s Hard to Tell Who Believes in Psychic Phenomena

Who believes in the paranormal? There seems to be no clear way of telling. (Image: FeeLoona/Pixabay)
Who believes in the paranormal? There seems to be no clear way of telling. (Image: FeeLoona/Pixabay)

The people who believe in psychic phenomena are spread across all cultures, and share different political views, different levels of education, different ages, and different religion — there is definitely no stereotype you can pin down.

Based on the investigative work of researchers Dr. Erlender Haraldson, Professor of Psychology at University of Iceland, and Dr. Bruce Greyson, the professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia we know that — despite the many differences — there are some common threads that believers in psychic phenomena share.

When examining these common personality traits or outlooks, it remains unclear whether psychic believers are seeking meaning in their lives, or whether in the quest for meaning, they find experiences that inspire their belief in what came first — the chicken or the egg?

What is psychic phenomena?

Psychic phenomena can cover a very broad range of experiences, including — and most commonly — past-life experiences and reincarnation, phenomena connected to religion or spiritual practice that cannot be fully explained with science, pre-cognition, retro-cognition, telepathy, psychic healing, and psychokinesis.

Currently, doctors in this field are attempting to understand these mysterious phenomena scientifically. The Parapsychological Association is affiliated with the American Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Common traits of psychic believers: Are you a sheep or a goat?

Let’s follow Dr. Haraldson’s lead and call believers in psychic phenomena: Sheep, and disbelievers (goats):

  • Sheep have a tendency to decode events in their life as being meaningful and connected. Goats on the other hand, understand events to be isolated and random events that are insignificant. The experiential perspective of sheep is intuitive, organic and different to the processing style of goats that is presumed ‘rational.’
Sheep tend to have a more experiential way of making sense of their life. (Image: StockSnap/pixabay)

‘Sheep’ tend to have a more experiential way of making sense of life. (Image: StockSnap/Pixabay)

  • Sheep have a preference to invest in private enterprises — as opposed to goats — who prefer state-run, cooperative businesses.
  • People who have a general interest in spirituality will also be more prone to be a categorised as a sheep.
A sheep-child? (Image: Pezibear/pixabay)

A ‘sheep-child’? (Image: Pezibear/Pixabay)

  • If you are a female, you have a marginally higher tendency to be a sheep than males, although the difference is slight.
  • A positive correlation with the Bible, or with Eastern Religious texts, is a common theme among sheep. Sheep tend to have an even greater interest in Eastern spirituality — this could be attributed to more liberal understandings in Eastern philosophy, as opposed to the more definitive understandings of Christian faith.
Religion Philosophy is an interest of some sheep. (Image: Foto-Rabe/pixabay)

Religion philosophy is often interesting to some ‘sheep’. (Image: Foto-Rabe/Pixabay)

  • Greater frequency of dream recall and interpretation is also noted among sheep.

    The most prominent indicator of sheep is the simple belief in life-after-death.

Findings left more questions than answers

Despite these findings, Dr. Haraldson concluded it is very difficult to make a firm link between belief and personality type.

He stated that: “The sheep-goat variable typically was related to to a mere 7 per cent of the variance in personality measures,” meaning that of believers and disbelievers, there is only a small variance that is actually measurable — and it is quite insignificant.

Like the very nature of psychic phenomena, it remains yet another mystery.

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