The Psychology of Paranormal Belief: A Researcher's Handbook

The Psychology of Paranormal Belief: A Researcher's Handbook


By (author) Harvey J. Irwin


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  • Publisher: University of Hertfordshire Press
  • Format: Paperback | 200 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 232mm x 12mm | 399g
  • Publication date: 1 September 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Hertford
  • ISBN 10: 190280693X
  • ISBN 13: 9781902806938
  • Sales rank: 383,146

Product description

This book, written by an internationally renowned researcher in the field, provides a thorough and systematic review of empirical investigations into the bases of belief in paranormal phenomena. Following a discussion of the concept of paranormality, four main theoretical approaches to the nature of paranormal belief are examined. Some researchers have suggested that such beliefs are most prevalent among people on the margins of society. Another view is that paranormal belief is simply one facet of a broader worldview, a view that is characterised by a highly subjective and esoteric outlook on humanity, life, and the world at large. Other commentators have sought to depict the paranormal believer as essentially illogical, irrational, credulous, uncritical, and foolish. In addition, a few writers propose that paranormal beliefs are best understood as serving significant psychodynamic needs. The empirical foundations and shortcomings of each of these approaches are rigorously documented in turn. By way of a conclusion, the underlying issue of definition is revisited and a new, more comprehensive theory is advanced to model the psychological development of scientifically unsubstantiated beliefs. Opening with a foreword from the highly respected researchers Dr Caroline Watt and Professor Richard Wiseman, this book will be of particular interest to professional researchers and serious students of the subject, as well as to clinical psychologists and counsellors.

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Author information

Dr Harvey J Irwin has an international reputation in research on the psychology of paranormal beliefs and parapsychological experiences. His other publications include over a hundred papers in academic journals and three books, including the highly praised and widely used text An Introduction to Parapsychology. Dr Irwin was a member of the School of Psychology in the University of New England, Australia for over 30 years, teaching a variety of courses from parapsychology to psychopathology, and serving as Head of the School for some years. Since his recent formal retirement from academia he has remained active in research and remains an Honorary Research Fellow in his former university. In 2002 the Parapsychological Association accorded Dr Irwin its Outstanding Research Contribution Award in recognition of his empirical and theoretical work in parapsychology over 25 years.

Review quote

"Fills the gap because it is up to date, formally written, and wide in scope . . . a particularly useful resource for students and teachers alike . . . as a textbook, Irwin's book is the best of its kind." --"Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research" on "An Introduction to Parapsychology"

Table of contents

Foreword by Richard Wiseman and Caroline A. Watt Acknowledgements 1 Introduction 2 Sociocultural influences on paranormal belief 3 The psychometrics of paranormal belief 4 The social marginality hypothesis 5 The worldview hypothesis 6 The cognitive deficits hypothesis 7 The psychodynamic functions hypothesis 8 Theoretical integration: a causal model of belief in scientifically unaccepted phenomena References Appendices: Some historically significant measures of paranormal belief Author index Subject index