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Empirical Research and Paranormal Beliefs: Going Beyond the Epistemological Debate in Favour of the Individual

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A brief look at the empirical literature of the past ten years reveals the clear debate raging over the pertinence of paranormal study to the field of psychology. Each of the arguments put forward by sceptics and believers is the product of the epistemological context in which they find themselves. Each addresses a different issue, using different terminology and different scientific approaches. However, these studies do reveal certain personality traits among paranormal believers who use their paranormal beliefs to exercise mental control and organisation, to cope with and manage anxiety, while moderating this with a certain emotional intelligence. Anxiety could well be a common factor underlying all aspects of the personalities of paranormal believers. It seems necessary therefore to leave psychology out of any epistemological debate, in order to enable the study of how being a paranormal believer helps or hinders the individual and their relationships. Refocusing on the experiences of the individual may provide a consensus for future research in this field.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Cardinal Mercier 10, B-1348 Louvaine-la-Neuve, Belgium;, Email:


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