• Mental representations of the supernatural: A cluster analysis of religiosity, spirituality and paranormal belief

      Schofield, Malcolm B.; Baker, Ian S.; Staples, Paul; Sheffield, David; University of Derby (2016-06-25)
      The aim of the study was to establish a new typology of belief in the supernatural; categorising people, based on their levels of religiosity, spirituality and paranormal belief. Examining how the various beliefs are defined was a further objective. The reasons for people having different levels of these beliefs were discussed, highlighting ‘Metaphysical Chauvinism’ as a possible explanation. Previous research that used variousmethods to measure religiosity, spirituality and paranormal belief were discussed. Participants (n = 307) completed an online survey consisting of the revised Religious Life Inventory (rRLI), the Intrinsic Spirituality Scale (ISS) and the revised Paranormal Belief Scale (rPBS). Two cluster analyses were performed: one on the three main scales and a secondary analysis on the ISS, the subscales of the rRLI and the rPBS. The results revealed a four cluster solution for each analysis. For the main analysis the clusters were ‘believers’, ‘paranormal believers’, ‘sceptics’ and ‘religious believers’. Metaphysical Chauvinism was supported; however, it was acknowledged that there still appears to be a lack of consensus when defining supernatural beliefs. It is proposed that the cluster analysis approach is more effective than a simple scale when trying establish how a person believes.