Paranormal believers' proneness to probabilistic reasoning biases: A review of the empirical literature

Paul Rogers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Numerous studies suggest individuals who endorse paranormal concepts such as ESP are especially prone to probabilistic reasoning biases. Rather than a misunderstanding of chance per se, current evidence suggests believers are especially prone to a misperception (of patterns) in randomness and/or an overestimation of the likelihood of co-occurring (relative to singular component) events. Both these biases presumably stem from believers having a 'looser' mental representation of randomness, which leads them to more easily dismiss this as the reason behind a seemingly remarkable coincidence. These appear to be rooted in hemispheric asymmetry and believers' heightened RH dominance and/or over-activation. Whether greater public education in statistical concepts like randomness would be successful in reducing the prevalence and robustness of paranormal belief remains to be seen, although, given their intuitive appeal and underlying neuropsychology, one should not be too optimistic of such change. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAberrant beliefs and reasoning
EditorsNiall Galbraith
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherPsychology Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781315797861
ISBN (Print)9781848723412, 9781848723429
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014

Publication series

NameCurrent issues in thinking and reasoning


  • probabilistic reasoning biases
  • intuitive appeal
  • mental representation
  • paranormal concepts
  • public education
  • Attitudes
  • Parapsychological Phenomena
  • Probability Judgment
  • Reasoning
  • Epistemology
  • Intuition
  • Mentalization


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