The Superstitious Scholar: Paranormal Belief within a Student population and its relationship to Academic Ability and Discipline

Robin Andrews, Philip Tyson

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Abstract

The development and application of critical thinking skills are an important component of success at University. Such skills permit students to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of evidence,
argument and theory. However research suggests that many students believe in paranormal phenomena (e.g. telekinesis). Such beliefs defy the basic principles of science and do not stand up
to critical scrutiny. This study aimed to investigate paranormal beliefs within a student population; differences among gender, academic discipline, and academic performance were explored. Findings indicated that females expressed higher levels of paranormal belief than males, ‘hard’ science students (e.g. Biology) and ‘soft’ science students (e.g. Sociology) expressed lower levels of belief than arts students, and a significant negative correlation indicated that high achievers were less likely to endorse paranormal beliefs. In light of these results we suggest that paranormal phenomena may be a useful tool for teaching critical thinking skills at University.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Higher Education
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • critical thinking
  • cognitive ability
  • learning in higher education
  • paranormal beliefs
  • rationalizing

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