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Young People and Paranormal Experiences: Why Are They Scared? A Cognitive Pattern

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Two qualitative projects have brought together non-directive and semi-directive interviews with 49 young people who had a paranormal experience (mainly spiritualism) between the ages of 11 and 18. A sequential analysis shows an emotional and cognitive pattern comprising four stages, accompanied by periods of anxiety. Young people move through those stages that correspond to a cognitive acceptance or rejection of what they are experiencing in order to maintain or re-establish paradigmatic stability. This study complements the many observations linking paranormal beliefs and anxiety, bringing with it the new discovery of a mechanism underlying the link between anxiety and some aspects of paranormal or anomalous experiences in young people.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Université catholique de Louvain Belgium, Email:


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