Inattentional Blindness, Absorption, Working Memory Capacity, and Paranormal Belief

Abstract:

Anne Richards Department of Psychological Sciences
Birkbeck College University of London
Moa Gunnarsson Hellgren, Christopher C. French
Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit
Department of Psychology
Goldsmiths College

Two studies investigated the relationship between inattentional blindness, paranormal belief/experience, absorption, and working memory capacity (WMC). ‘Inattentional blindness’ (IB) refers to the failure to consciously register an unexpected visual stimulus or event when attention is diverted to a different task. Absorption is a highly focused state where individuals are unaware of stimuli outside of attentional focus and is linked with paranormal belief. It was predicted that IB individuals would have higher absorption scores and be more likely to believe in the paranormal than non-inattentionally blind (NIBs) individuals. In both studies, IBs had higher absorption and paranormal belief scores than NIBs, as predicted. In addition, Study 2 measured WMC. Although absorption predicted IB, when WMC and paranormal belief were entered into the analysis, only WMC predicted IB with IBs having lower WMC than NIBs. These data offer support for a cognitive deficit account of paranormal belief.

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