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Diverse Supernatural Portfolios: Certitude, Exclusivity, and the Curvilinear Relationship Between Religiosity and Paranormal Beliefs

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Studies have attempted to understand the association between more conventional supernatural (religious) beliefs and practices and less conventional “paranormal” supernatural beliefs. Some have posited that the two comprise incompatible cultural spheres and belief systems, while others have argued that supernatural religious beliefs are “small steps” toward less conventional paranormal views (such as belief in astrology and telekinesis). We build upon recent scholarship outlining a more nuanced, nonlinear relationship between religiosity and paranormal beliefs by identifying a specific niche of believers who are particularly likely to dabble in unconventional supernatural beliefs. Strong believers in the paranormal tend to be characterized by a nonexclusive spiritualist worldview, as opposed to materialist or exclusive religious outlooks. Paranormal believers tend to be characterized by moderate levels of religious belief and practice, and low levels of ideological exclusivity. In general, the relationship between more conventional religiosity and paranormal beliefs is best conceptualized as curvilinear.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology andAnthropologyEast Tennessee State University 2: Department of SociologyBaylor University

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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