The Psychology of Paranormal Belief: A Reseracher's Handbook

By Irwin, Harvey J.

From the publisher’s website: This book, written by an internationally renowned researcher in the field, provides a thorough and systematic review of empirical investigations into the bases of belief in paranormal phenomena.


Following a discussion of the concept of paranormality, four main theoretical approaches to the nature of paranormal belief are examined. Some researchers have suggested that such beliefs are most prevalent among people on the margins of society. Another view is that paranormal belief is simply one facet of a broader worldview, a view that is characterised by a highly subjective and esoteric outlook on humanity, life, and the world at large. Other commentators have sought to depict the paranormal believer as essentially illogical, irrational, credulous, uncritical, and foolish. In addition, a few writers propose that paranormal beliefs are best understood as serving significant psychodynamic needs. The empirical foundations and shortcomings of each of these approaches are rigorously documented in turn. By way of a conclusion, the underlying issue of definition is revisited and a new, more comprehensive theory is advanced to model the psychological development of scientifically unsubstantiated beliefs. Opening with a foreword from the highly respected researchers in paranormal belief Dr Caroline Watt and Professor Richard Wiseman, this book will be of particular interest to professional researchers and serious students of the subject, as well as to clinical psychologists and counsellors. 
Dr Harvey J Irwin has an international reputation in research on the psychology of paranormal beliefs and parapsychological experiences. His other publications include over a hundred papers in academic journals and three books, including the highly praised and widely used text An Introduction to Parapsychology. Dr Irwin was a member of the School of Psychology in the University of New England, Australia for over 30 years, teaching a variety of courses from parapsychology to psychopathology, and serving as Head of School for some years. Since his recent formal retirement from academia he has remained active in research and remains an Honorary Research Fellow in his former university. In 2002 the Parapsychological Association accorded Dr Irwin its Outstanding Research Contribution Award in recognition of his empirical and theoretical work in parapsychology over 25 years.


University of Hertfordshire Press, Sep 2009. ISBN-13 978-1-902806-93-8

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