Paranormal belief and perceived control over life events

Chris A Roe, Claire Bell

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The psychodynamic functions hypothesis has been proposed as a means to explain the high levels of paranormal belief among the population. According to this view, the world appears to some to be unpredictable, uncontrollable and inherently meaningless, which gives rise to anxiety. Paranormal beliefs may develop to allay this anxiety by offering the promise of order and personal power. Although there is some evidence to support the putative association between the three variables of perceived helplessness, anxiety and paranormal belief, these have not previously been considered together in the same population. Sixty-five participants completed a battery of measures including the State-Trait Anxiety Index (Spielberger, 1983), the revised Paranormal Belief Scale (Tobacyk, 2004) as well as newly constructed Estimated Likelihood of Stressful Events and Perceived Control over Stressful Events scales. No relationship was found between perceived control over future life events and paranormal belief, but measures of state and trait anxiety correlated significantly with both perceived control and paranormal belief. Results of a path analysis suggested a model that was broadly in agreement with the psychodynamic functions hypothesis in describing a mediating role for anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Society for Psychical Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2016


  • Paranormal belief
  • anxiety
  • control
  • perceived control


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