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April 21st Notes REL 304 Superstitious and Supernatural Beliefs The Biology of Belief - Humans need to make

ke sense of a contingent, seemingly random world. - Belief involves causal thinking, which seeks out meaningful patterns and connections. - Beliefs are mental states stored in the mind that influence further thinking and behavior - Brains are not concerned with degrees of rationality or truth; a belief is often closer to the word fit than reasoned conclusion. The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing Blaise Pascal Scientific thinking: using beliefs that feature natural causal explanations. Magical thinking: using beliefs that feature non-natural causal explanations. The two sides of causal thinking: Type 1 error believing a falsehood Type 2 error rejecting a truth Type 2 hit not believing a falsehood Type 2 hit believing a truth The Quirks of Belief - Attribution Bias people naturally attribute their own believes and actions to rational reasons, whereas we see those of others as more emotionally driven. - Confirmation bias we tend to seek and interpret evidence favorable to already existing beliefs, and to ignore or reinterpret evidence unfavorable to already existing beliefs. - Intelligence and belief to a limited degree, there is a correlation between intelligence/education levels and acceptance of supernatural and paranormal beliefs. - Gender and belief women hold more superstitious beliefs and accept more paranormal phenomena as real than men. - Age and belief- people under thirty are more superstitions than older age groups and less skeptical about paranormal claims - Personality and belief scales measuring traits like agreeableness and emotionality show some personalities are more receptive to unusual beliefs The Psychology of Supernatural Belief 1. Socialization: most core beliefs are instilled early by social influences and remain active throughout life. 2. Simplicity: supernatural beliefs provide a quick, simple path through life than complex reasoning. 3. Needs: supernatural beliefs fulfill felt needs (e.g., why questions, meaning, comfort, security).

4. Locus of Control: supernatural beliefs reduce anxiety and provide effective coping in tough times.