Research Item – J. E. KENNEDY
(Original publication and copyright: Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research,
2003, Volume 97, pp. 27-42)
ABSTRACT: Anecdotal observations suggest that the extreme skeptics of paranormal phenomena tend to be males who place great value on rational thinking and control, and often feel threatened by and hostile toward those with different beliefs and values. These characteristics are consistent with the emerging evidence that males have genetic tendencies for social dominance and rational thinking. Research on the relationship between religion and belief in psi has given mixed results but suggests that belief may be more related to personal spirituality than to institutionalized religion. As a first step in understanding the polarization of psi beliefs, gender and spirituality were examined for extreme skeptics and extreme believers in psi from a Canadian representative national survey. For the extreme skeptics, 72% were male and 62% did not consider spirituality important. For the extreme believers, 64% were females and 86% considered spirituality important. These and other findings suggest that skepticism and belief in psi may be associated with genetic, sex-related personality factors. Research on paranormal beliefs may be hindered by the failure to distinguish belief in psi as a human ability versus as divine intervention.