Spirituality and a Belief in the Paranormal

This post is Part 3 in a series of posts investigating the traits of people who believe in the paranormal.

Part 1: We Want to Believe
Part 2: Who Wears Tinfoil Hats?
Part 3: Spirituality and a Belief in the Paranormal
Part 4: Traits of the Skeptic
Part 5: The Politics of Paranormal

Part 3: Spirituality and a Belief in the Paranormal

Angels, ghosts, and psychics - all commonly associated with the spirit of the dead - form an interesting trio of paranormal beliefs. Angels have a distinctly religious place in society. While ghosts and psychics are not traditionally part of church doctrine, my analysis suggests they blur the lines between religion, spirituality, and secularism. 

The below figure shows the amount of correlation between someone's personal traits and their paranormal beliefs. Green means the answers are highly correlated such that a person who has the indicated trait is more likely to have the paranormal belief. Red indicates the trait and belief are anti-correlated, i.e., someone who has the trait is less likely to have the belief. The plot is very dense and there is much that can be learned from it. Some of the more interesting findings are annotated 1-9.

Figure: Strength of correlation between a belief in conspiracy theories and a large selection of the SameGrain users' characteristics. Some of the more interested findings are enumerated 1-9.

Presumably because of their affiliation with religion - and Christianity in particular - a belief in angels is much more likely for people with religious and/or culturally and politically conservative traits (see annotation 1). These include characteristics such as attending church, believing in creationism, being pro-life, and voting for the presidential candidate from the more conservative political party, Donald Trump. 

A belief in angels is also strongly correlated with being spiritual, but not particularly religious. In fact, spiritual, non-religious people are more likely to have all other paranormal beliefs, particularly in psychics. Women, too, show a strong correlation with a belief in psychics, ghosts, angels, and other phenomena. This is in stark contrast to religious conservatives, who tend to have an aversion to all other paranormal beliefs besides angels. In other words, religious conservatives are more likely to believe in angels only, while spiritual people are more likely to believe in angels and other paranormal phenomena. 

Interestingly, Donald Trump's supporters look markedly different than typical religious conservatives. While they have similar rates of belief in angels, they are also more likely to have other paranormal beliefs, particularly in Big Foot, conspiracy theories, and ghosts. This agrees with the general political convention that Trump voters are not typical of the Republican Party, and also explains why Trump supporters are receptive to the conspiracy theories the candidate promotes (Obama birth certificate, autism-vaccination link, JFK assassination, etc.).

The above analysis suggests two distinct camps of angel believers. The first, motivated by their religious convictions, believes in angels only. The second consists of spiritual, non-religious people who hold a more general belief in a spirit world of which angels, ghosts, and psychics are all a part.

You can find people like you - including those with the same paranormal beliefs - on SameGrain.