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Everton de Oliveira Maraldi - Assessing the underlying spirituality: development and initial validation of an implicit measure of paranormal and New Age beliefs

Published by View Parapsychological Association's profile Parapsychological Association on Monday, September 10, 2018

Everton de Oliveira Maraldi
Inter Psi – Laboratory of Anomalistic Psychology and Psychosocial Processes, Institute of Psychology, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Paranormal beliefs comprise an essential element of New Age spirituality. There has been growing interest in the investigation of the personality characteristics and cognitive processes implicated in the endorsement of such beliefs. However, little is known about the implicit mechanisms involved in their formation and maintenance, including associations which underlie conscious awareness. There is also a scarcity of research with respondents from outside English-speaking countries, which could be of importance to precise the role of cultural factors in both explicit and implicit endorsement of paranormal conceptions. The main purpose of this investigation was to develop and test an implicit measure of paranormal beliefs for use in Brazil, based on the widely used Implicit Association Test. In addition, the study also investigated whether paranormal beliefs are malleable to change in the face of counter-arguments and whether the correlation with belief change (if valid) would remain significant for the implicit measure as well. The results attest to the validity of our Spiritual Belief Single-Target Implicit Association Test. As expected, the implicit measure correlated significantly with a self-report scale of paranormal beliefs (r = 0.45, p < 0.001) and was unrelated to social desirability (p > 0,05). Additionally, the test was able to discriminate paranormal believers from disbelievers. Both explicit (r = 0,27, p < 0,001) and implicit (r = 0,14, p < 0,001) paranormal beliefs correlated significantly with a measure of the malleability of beliefs in the face of counter-arguments. The paper is concluded with a discussion of the cross-cultural implications of the present findings and their relevance to other fields of research besides parapsychology, such as the psychology of religion and spirituality.


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