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The cognitive and personality differences of supernatural belief.Schofield, Malcolm B.; University of Derby (2017-12-20)This thesis set out to meet the following aim and objectives: Aim: Examine cognition and personality of people who hold different types of supernatural belief. Objective 1: Create and validate a new scale to measure supernatural belief. Objective 2: Create and test a new model of supernatural belief based on cognition and personality. This would potentially test two hypotheses: the Cognitive Deficits Hypothesis and the Psychodynamics Functions Hypothesis. This was accomplished by conducting four studies. Studies one and two created and validated the new Belief in the Supernatural Scale (BitSS), a 44 item scale with the following five factors: ‘mental and psychic phenomena’, ‘religious belief’, ‘psychokinesis’, ‘supernatural entities’, and ‘common paranormal perceptions’. Cognition and personality would be looked at within the context of four different types of believer: ‘believers’, ‘paranormal believers’, ‘sceptics’ and ‘religious believers’. Study three revealed two profiles relating to cognition: ‘reflective thinkers’ and ‘intuitive believers’. The reflective profile was more likely to contain ‘sceptics’ and ‘believers’, and least likely to contain ‘paranormal believers’. The intuitive group was more likely to contain ‘religious believers’ and ‘believers’. The final study looked at personality alongside cognition and revealed ‘sensitive and abstract thinkers’ and ‘reflective metacognitive dogmatists’ profiles. The ‘sensitive and abstract thinkers’ were least likely to contain ‘sceptics’ and ‘religious believers’ and most likely to contain ‘believers’ and ‘paranormal believers’. The ‘reflective metacognitive dogmatists’ were most likely to contain ‘religious believers’ and ‘believers’ and least likely to contain ‘paranormal believers’. Following this analysis, Structural Equation Modelling was used to test seven different models of personality, cognition and belief. Studies one and two indicated a clear separation of religious and paranormal belief within the new scale, and that spiritual belief overlaps between the two. The scale developed was reliable and valid, and accurately reflected the concept of supernatural belief and enabled the measurement of religious and paranormal belief, where the overlaps were acknowledged whilst still being separate beliefs. Studies three and four found the ‘sceptics’ and ‘religious believers’ have remarkably similar profiles, indicating that the religious beliefs themselves may have been cognitively ring-fenced off in some way. The ‘paranormal believers’ however were not reflective thinkers and were not metacognitively active, indicating that they were not aware that they were not thinking critically or analytically. The Structural Equation Model showed that schizotypy was the main predictor of belief. The relationship between belief and cognition was more complex; it was dependent on what type of belief was active. Paranormal belief required a more intuitive thinking style to be present, whereas religious belief could withstand a reflective mind set. This thesis develops a new scale that measures supernatural belief provides a unique contribution to knowledge by establishing a model of cognition, personality and belief.