Using covariance structure modelling we sought to test the childhood factors model of paranormal belief development outlined by Irwin (Journal of American Society for Psychical Research, 86, 199-208; 87, 1-39). Eighty-two students at the University of Edinburgh were administered three questionnaires relating to childhood trauma, childhood fantasy, and paranormal belief and experience. Eighty suitable questionnaires were completed and analysed using EQS (Bentler, EQS Structural Relations Program Manual, 1989). The first test of Irwin's model showed that the model did not provide an adequate fit to our sample data. In particular, EQS suggested dropping a direct causal link from fantasy to belief and adding a direct link from trauma and paranormal experience. Both modifications were intuitively plausible and were implemented in a post hoc modified model. This new model gave an excellent fit to the data. In addition, our study replicated Irwin's (Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 86, 199-208, 1992) finding of a small but significant correlation between childhood trauma and paranormal belief, and extends previous findings showing a small correlation between childhood fantasy and paranormal belief (and experience) to the realm of childhood fantasy, thus addressing the childhood factors model proper. In conclusion, we offer up our new model for future attempts at replication, and strongly advocate the switch to a model building approach to better understand paranormal belief and experience.
|Number of pages
|Personality and Individual Differences
|Published - Aug 1995