Scepticism: Genuine unbelief or implicit beliefs in the supernatural?

Abstract

We examined whether skeptics hold implicit supernatural beliefs. In study 1, priming by reading a biological or a religious story about death had no effect on skeptics' afterlife beliefs. In study 2, participants indicated whether they would partake in a (bogus) scientific study that involved visiting a fortune teller and whether they would prefer a fortune teller who predicts positive and negative events or one who predicts only positive events. Believers chose the positive fortune teller more often than skeptics did. Study 3 investigated whether participants' views about the afterlife, other paranormal phenomena, and ontological confusions differ in speeded and non-speeded response conditions. The results were moderated by thinking style: ontological confusions increased in speeded conditions for intuitive skeptics but not for reflective skeptics. The results indicate that skeptics don't hold implicit supernatural beliefs but intuitively thinking skeptics hold ontological confusions predisposing to supernatural beliefs.


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