Non-reflective thinkers are predisposed to attribute supernatural causation to uncanny experiences

Abstract

For unknown reasons, individuals who are confident in their intuitions are more likely to hold supernatural beliefs. How does an intuitive cognitive style lead one to believe in faith healing, astrology, or extrasensory perception (ESP)? We hypothesize that cognitive style is critically important after one experiences an uncanny event that seems to invite a supernatural explanation. In three studies, we show that irrespective of their prior beliefs in the supernatural, non-reflective thinkers are more likely than reflective thinkers to accept supernatural causation after an uncanny encounter with astrology and ESP. This is the first time that controlled experiments demonstrate the negative dynamics of reflection and supernatural causality attribution. We consider the possible generalization of our findings to religious beliefs and their implications for the social vulnerability of non-reflective individuals.

Publication
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
JF Bonnefon
JF Bonnefon
Behavioral Scientist

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