Childhood Physical Abuse and Differential Development of Paranormal Belief Systems

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Abstract

Abstract:

This study compared paranormal belief systems in individuals with and without childhood physical abuse histories. The Revised Paranormal Belief Scale and the Assessing Environments III Questionnaire were completed by 107 University students. Psi, precognition, and spiritualism, which are thought to provide a sense of personal efficacy and control, were among the most strongly held beliefs in abused subjects, and were significantly higher in abused versus nonabused subjects. Superstition and extraordinary life forms, thought to have an inverse or no relation to felt control, were the least strongly held beliefs in abused subjects, and, along with religious beliefs, did not differ between the two abuse groups. Witchcraft was unexpectedly found to be the most strongly held belief among those with abuse histories. Results suggest that by providing a sense of control, certain paranormal beliefs may offer a powerful emotional refuge to individuals who endured the stress of physical abuse in childhood.

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