Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Paranormal Belief, Schizotypy, and transliminality/Croyance Paranormale, Schizotypie et transliminalite/Creencia En Lo Paranormal, Esquizotipia Y transliminararidad/Paranormale Glaubenseinstellung, Schizotypie Und Transliminalitat

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Paranormal Belief, Schizotypy, and transliminality/Croyance Paranormale, Schizotypie et transliminalite/Creencia En Lo Paranormal, Esquizotipia Y transliminararidad/Paranormale Glaubenseinstellung, Schizotypie Und Transliminalitat

Article excerpt

Schizotypy is a multifactorial psychological construct, which describes a continuum of personality characteristics and experiences related to psychosis, and in particular schizophrenia (Goulding, 2004). Three models have commonly been used to define schizotypy (Claridge, 1997; McCreery & Claridge, 2002). These view schizotypy as: (a) a disease, a milder form of schizophrenia (Meehl, 1962; Rado, 1953); (b) a personality dimension (Eysenck, 1960), psychoticism being the upper end of the normality-psychosis continuum (Goulding, 2004); and (c) both a healthy variation and a predisposition to psychosis, compromise model (Claridge, 1997). The latter two models suggest that level of schizotypy may influence cognitive-perceptual experiences within the general population and thus contribute to the formation and maintenance of paranormal belief.

This notion is supported by Irwin (2009), who postulates that clinically oriented variables, such as schizotypy, correlate with paranormal belief because they intrinsically entail reality testing deficits. It has been previously proposed that reality testing deficits per se may be fundamentally involved in the formation of paranormal beliefs (Alcock, 1981, 1995; Goode, 2000; Irwin, 2004;Vyse, 1997; Zusne &Jones, 1982). Consistent with this view, Irwin (2009) argues that reality-testing deficits bias individuals towards intuitive-experiential interpretations of anomalous events. Such interpretations lack analytical-rational processing and are likely to facilitate the generation of nonconventional "paranormal" explanations. Once advanced, paranormal hypotheses are then maintained because subsequent evidence is not subjected to critical evaluation. Thus according to Irwin (2009), paranormal beliefs are formed and maintained because individuals fail to rigorously test self-generated explanations of the world (Irwin, 2004).

Studies examining the structure of schizotypy have consistently identified three underlying factors: aberrant perceptions and beliefs in other worlds (the positive symptoms of psychosis, i.e., hallucinations and delusions) ; cognitive failures (thought blocking and attentional difficulties) together with social anxiety; and introvertive anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure and social withdrawal; Goulding, 2004). These factors are reflected by the three domains of the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ; Raine, 1991): cognitive-perceptual, disorganised, and interpersonal. The SPQ was designed to reflect the major groups of schizophrenia symptoms (i.e., positive, negative and disorganised) (Andreasen, Arndt, Alliger, Miller, & Flaum, 1995; Compton, Goulding, Bakeman, & McClure-Tone, 2009). It is worth noting that there has been considerable recent debate regarding the factorial structure of schizotypy, which has resulted in some authors proposing the existence of a fourth (paranoid) factor (Compton et al., 2009; Stefanis, et al., 2004). Given the controversial status of this additional factor, the current paper will concentrate upon the traditional three-factor model of schizotypy.

Pertinently, schizotypal personality disorder has been found to be associated with cognitive and perceptual distortions, including odd beliefs or magical thinking (Goulding & Parker, 2001). Magical thinking in this context is defined as the belief in forms of causation which by conventional standards are considered to be invalid (Eckblad & Chapman, 1983). Thalbourne (2009) further explicates that magical ideation is a "belief, quasi-belief, or semi-serious entertainment of the possibility that events which, according to the casual concepts of this culture, cannot have a causal relation with each other, might somehow nevertheless do so" (Eckbald & Chapman, 1983, p. 215). Collectively, these findings explain the commonly reported positive correlation between schizotypy and paranormal belief (Genovese, 2005; Goulding, 2004, 2005; Wolfradt, Oubaid, Straube, Bischoff, & Mischo, 1999). …

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