The mediating and moderating effects of loneliness and attachment style on belief in the paranormal

Paul Rogers, Pamela Qualter, Gemma Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research suggests that belief in the paranormal (BIP) is a response to trauma or a perceived lack of control in childhood (Irwin, 1992; in press). The present study extends this work by examining the degree to which loneliness and attachment style predict paranormal beliefs. A community sample of 253 respondents completed self-report measures of childhood trauma, fantasy proneness, loneliness and adult attachment style, plus Tobacyk's (1988) Revised Paranormal Belief Scale. Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) revealed that childhood trauma significantly predicts a global paranormal belief, with both fantasy proneness and social loneliness mediating this relationship. In contrast, neither emotional loneliness nor attachment style were associated with such beliefs. Subsequent examination of predictor interactions suggests fantasy proneness had a moderating effect on the relationship between childhood trauma and paranormal belief, with survivors of childhood trauma more likely to endorse paranormal beliefs if they, as adults, were also prone to fantasizing. Whilst a similar pattern of results was found for New Age Philosophy, Traditional Paranormal Beliefs (Lange, Irwin and Houran, 2000) were also moderated by feelings of loneliness caused by the absence of peer relationships. Results are discussed in relation to their support for Irwin's (1992) psychodynamic functions hypotheses of paranormal belief. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-165
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of Parapsychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • mediating effects
  • loneliness
  • attachment style
  • paranormal belief
  • Attitudes
  • Loneliness
  • Parapsychological Phenomena
  • Attachment Behavior


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