Some of the most interesting topics in psychology and other nervous-related topics are the ones that tackle paranormal activities—these are activities that cannot usually be explained by science (Wagner, 2011). Other entities that are believed to be of paranormal origin are ghosts, haunted houses, exorcisms, invisibility cloaks and other things that cannot usually be explained even by the most modern technologies.
Some experts have claimed that paranormal entities aren’t actually real; some even believe that we are the only ones that make it real. The brain is a very powerful tool and simply imagining things could make it look so real (Begley, 2007). In fact, according to an article published online by Ms. Sharon Begley, there are already a lot of experiments conducted to test the truth whether paranormal entities such as ghosts are even real or not. Their initial explanation is that people usually perceive paranormal entities as something evil. In turn, evil is described or is often perceived as something that is physical, tangible and able to cause harm.
This paper is a critical review of a text resource that talks about the reasoning of people who believe in the paranormal. Questions like whether their reasoning capabilities are any different with that of other individuals who do not believe in the presence of ghosts and spirits could be answered and this is of great significance in the field of psychology. Why? Because until now, it still is literally unknown whether these things do exist in the physical world or not. Or are they not really “physical entities”; it’s just that they could both exist in the physical and non-physical world.
Several major strengths and weaknesses would also be included in the critical review so that a better and more accurate assessment whether the study conducted could really contribute to the corresponding field (which in this case is psychology) or not.
The article source that this critical review paper will use is entitled “Reasoning in believers in the Paranormal”. It is an article that aims to discover whether there are some reasoning impairments involved with people who believe in the existence of the paranormal. It is basically a study with controlled and test subjects.
The subjects in the control group and the other groups are simply used to determine whether there are differences in the delusional capabilities of subjects coming from the two groups of samples or none. The basis of the researchers in conducting the research is their belief that reasoning biases have been identified in deluded patients—individuals who does not seem to be reliable in distinguishing myths from facts (Lawrence & Peters, 2004).
Did the Methodology they use Effective or Not?
Since the aim was to determine whether delusion and obvious false beliefs were present in individuals who believe in the paranormal or not, the researchers have decided to use an experimental study design to get appropriate and accurate answers (they think) to their research question or topic.
According to the National Center for Technology and Innovation (2011), an experimental study could be an effective type of evaluation if the aim is to determine whether a program, intervention or hypothesis could result into the intended causal effect to its target participants.
Since the target population in the article source in this paper are patients prone to experience delusions as well as subjects who believe in the paranormal; plus, the aims was to determine whether they really experience reasoning biases or otherwise, using the experimental study design could prove to be a promising tool initially and an effective one in the long run.
Using an appropriate experimental study design is definitely a requirement because results could easily be changed (in a negative way) if the topic and research objective are mismatched. It’s also a good thing that the researchers focused in observing a relatively big number of sample population. The number of subjects they recruited in the study was 174 to be exact.
Another good thing about the literature is the fact that it decided a sample population who are members of the Society for Physical Research considering that their research topic deals with the paranormal—a subject that is of great significance in the psychological and psychiatric fields.
Stating the Difference between Schizophrenia and Schizotypy—both are mental disorders that could cause delusions
Although it is really not necessary to state the difference between Schizophrenia and Schizotypy, the researchers still have decided to do so, perhaps in an effort to make the results as detailed and as generalizable as possible. This could be considered as one of the paper’s strengths since the more detailed a research is, the more accurate its results at the end of the study could be.
There were also similarities seen between the two disorders. Both were of a multidimensional constructs (Claridge et al., 1996). Being able to identify relationships between individual disorders could enhance the applicability of the research or study and this is basically why this particular step is of utmost significance. After all, how could this research be significant if the researchers do not even know how it could benefit patients and what type of patients could be benefited by the knowledge that could be obtained in this particular study.
In relation to the identification of different delusional disorders that could be targeted using the results of the study, the researchers were also able to identify the type of tool that they can use to measure the presence of abnormal traits in the general population. Say the type of disorder they are trying to rule out or sort from a particular sample population is Schizotypy.
Then, they have to use a particular tool to determine whether an individual has that disorder or not. In the research’s case, they used a method of measurement rather than a tool (some researchers use different standardized survey tools in diagnosing and ruling out procedures) which was done psychometrically from full and quasi-dimensional viewpoints. These two viewpoints are somewhat directly related with the disorder being ruled out. Therefore, it could be asserted that they are one of the most accurate methods or tools to be used.
In addition to the identified strengths of this journal, the use of different standardized scales was also conducted, perhaps to reinforce the use of different measurement methods. Some examples of the scales they used for ruling out and diagnosis were the Schizotypy scales of Claridge and Broks (1984). Although one method could already serve as a sufficient tool for ruling out, the researchers have still decided to use reinforced assessment tools, thus making the results more credible rather than compromised.
Critical Evaluation of the Research Design
These are the usual criteria used to classify researchers that are under the experimental study design. In the research paper’s case, they used a quasi-experimental design because they cannot fulfill all of the criteria for the paper to be categorized as experimental. This poses neither a positive nor a negative impact on the paper because researchers tend to use what research study design they think is best for meeting their research goals. Besides, a quasi-experimental design does not totally differ from a research structured experimentally.
Critical Review of the Results
After conducting a series of experiments, the researchers have come up with results stating that individuals who have strong beliefs in the existence of the paranormal scored higher on a delusional ideation measure. They also showed signs of consistently making errors in deductive reasoning tasks compared to individuals who do not have that strong a belief in the paranormal.
Group differences in reasoning skills were not found, thanks to the allocations made on the basis of first-hand experience of paranormal occurrences. Simply put, an individual who had first-hand encounters with such entities could not automatically be classified as an individual who would have reasoning abnormalities, by solely using the fact that they have paranormal encounters.
In line with this, since there are individuals who do not have paranormal encounters but still believe in the existence of the paranormal, it would still be best not to generalize. One of the weaknesses of this quasi-experimental study is this; they were not able to determine how to differentiate individuals with first hand paranormal experience with individuals who do not have any paranormal encounters but still believe in its existence. As evidence, in the results of the experiment, an overlap was seen between the group allocations.
This basically means one thing. It means that people’s belief and their experiences are at some point, related or interlinked. The same thought was actually suggested by Blackmore (1984). This could also mean another thing. This could mean that this research journal was also confirmatory in nature. Along the process of getting results and sources of further discussions, it was able to confirm the results of other prior researches, some dating 20 to even 30 years ago. Thanks to this research, the supposedly obsolete results of those old evidences could still be used today. However, this does not mean that the “Reasoning in Believers in the Paranormal” is a purely confirmatory source.
It would rather be appropriate to say that it is one of its strong points. Later on, medical and mental health professionals will look for articles and journals that they could use for evidence-based practice and one of the criteria they will most likely use in searching resources would be a confirmatory characteristic. With that, this article could be a very appropriate material.
Weaknesses and Limitations
All is actually well and within normal limits except that this article has some weaknesses and limitations which are of course normal. One limitation of this study was the fact that it got a significantly low response rate. Even though its aim was not really to obtain a high response rate, it would still be better if they were able to gather a higher rating.
They were able to make up to this limitation by employing samples that came from a related field (Society for Psychical Research). They were also able to study 174 subjects which is a large enough sample size to gather credible results to examine the researchers’ hypothesis (Lawrence & Peters, 2004).
Overall, the text could obviously be a significant source of up to date information in the field of psychology, psychiatry and other mental health-related fields. It has a lot of strengths with very few gaps and weaknesses. However, it does exhibit a couple of weak points that is definitely normal.
It only means that further research is needed and perhaps, another researcher or group of researchers could continue the research and find out more about the issue in paranormal encounters and reasoning of believers that was most likely missed out by the researches in the critically reviewed text. All of these are normal in every research. There always has to be continuation and confirmatory studies so that more updated information could be gathered and supposedly obsolete evidences could still be used, if they are still effective in today’s context.
Wagner, S. (2011). Your True Tales. Paranormal Phenomena. Accessed January 2011. Available at http://paranormal.about.com/.
Begley, S. (2011). The Ghosts we Think We See. The Daily Beast. Accessed January 2011. Available at http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2007/10/27/the-ghosts-we-think-we-see.html.
Lawrence, E., & Peters, E. (2004). Reasoning in Believers in the Paranormal. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: Lippincott Williams & Willkins, 2004. Print.
National Center for Technology and Innovation. (2011). Experimental Study Design. Accessed January 2011. Available at http://www.nationaltechcenter.org/index.php/products/at-research-matters/experimental-study-design/.
Claridge, G., McCreery, C., Mason, O., Bentall, R., Boyle, M., Slade, P., & Popplewell, D. (1996). The Factor Structure of Shizotypal Traits: A Large Replication Study. Br J Clin Psychol. Print.
Claridge, G., & Broks, P. (1984). Schizotypy and Hemisphere Function I: The Oretical Considerations and the Measurement of Schizotypy. Pers Individ Diff. Print.
Writing at CSU. (2011). Differences between Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research. Conducting Experiments. Accessed January 2011. Available at http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/research/experiment/pop3e.cfm.
Blackmore, S. (1984). A Postal Survey of OBEs and Other Experiences. J Soc Psychical Res. Print.