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Browsing by Author "Vaalasranta, Liisa"

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  • Vaalasranta, Liisa (2020)
    Goals: It has been suggested that evolutionarily evolved cognitive biases may predispose human minds toward supernatural belief. However, not all people claim to believe in supernatural, and according to dual process theories of cognition this can be explained by individual differences in general thinking styles. The aim of this study was to integrate the theoretical approaches of cognitive biases and general thinking styles to explain paranormal and religious belief. Specifically, the aim was to examine whether differences in intuitive and analytical thinking styles mediate the relationship of two cognitive biases, ontological confusions and promiscuous teleological thinking, to paranormal and religious belief. Methods: The data included Finnish respondents (N = 2479) to an online survey that consisted of performance and self-report measures concerning ontological confusions, promiscuous teleological thinking, intuitive and analytical thinking styles and paranormal and religious beliefs. A structural equation model was conducted to examine the mediation pathways. Results: Ontological confusions and intuitive thinking style were the primary predictors of supernatural belief. Promiscuous teleological thinking was weakly related to supernatural belief. General thinking styles partly mediated the relation between cognitive biases and supernatural belief, and the mechanisms were somewhat different depending on the belief type. Ontological confusions predicted primarily paranormal belief but were only weakly connected to religious belief. Only intuitive thinking style mediated the connections to paranormal belief, whereas both intuitive and actively open-minded thinking styles mediated the connections to religious belief. Conclusions: The results show that ontological confusions and intuitive thinking style are important cognitive factors in understanding supernatural belief. Analytical thinking may, however, have a lesser role in understanding supernatural belief and it may be mainly related to scepticism towards religious belief. The results suggest that paranormal beliefs may be more directly related to underlying supernatural intuitions, whereas other factors such as social and cultural factors, may be more important in understanding religious belief.