A new study reveals that believers in psychics and fortune-tellers feel more in control of their lives compared to non-believers. A group of Australian researchers from the University of Queensland conducted the study. A woman named Katharine Greenaway was in charge of leading it.
Together, they hypothesized that a belief in psychic predictions directly connects to feeling a sense of control over their lives. “If it is possible to predict what the future holds, then one can exert control,” says the report.
“Having insight into what will happen in the future would therefore allow people to control their outcomes in a way that would guarantee personal success and survival.” In an attempt to examine and understand this phenomenon, they conducted several experiments.
One of them involved two groups of individuals instructed to read passages. These passages either promoted or disputed the idea that scientists have found evidence of precognitive psychic powers. After reading them, they asked each group to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with the statements.
They also asked them how much control they felt over their lives and circumstances. The group that read the information confirming the existence of psychic powers were the ones that agreed more strongly with statements like “my own actions determine my life” and “I am in control of my own life” than those in the opposite group.
So what causes the psychology of prediction? The reason for this is that humans are constantly looking for patterns in things. We’re always looking for ways to make sense of the things that happen around us.
One example of this would be gamblers who wear their “lucky shirt” to a casino. Another is an athlete who performs the same ritual every time before a game for good luck.
This Is What They Learned:
Following the study, the researchers stated the following about humans: “Humans are predisposed toward prediction. We are constantly driven to look forward, envisage the future, and infer what will happen. These cognitive mechanisms serve important functions in enabling survival and reproductive advantage. They also act to reduce psychological uncertainty about the future.”
“Our natural orientation towards prediction can sometimes manifest in extreme ways. Some people go so far as to postulate that humans may have developed an ability to predict the future. The multi-million dollar industry of psychic readings, clairvoyance, and astrology testifies to people’s fascination with this idea,” says the study.
The same psychological principle is also present in individuals who believe in conspiracies. For them, it is mentally comforting to believe that major, tragic events like the 9/11 attacks or the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting are part of a bigger scheme, whether they know what that is or not.
The study surmised that their experiment findings “help explain why interest in the predictive arts is highest in times of threat and uncertainty. It is at these moments that individuals most feel the need to control the course of their lives.”
To sum up the study: If you believe fortune-telling psychics, then by proxy, you also believe that the future is already planned out and can be foreseen. So when economic depressions and terrorist acts arise, you try to find comfort. Feeling uncertain is very unsettling for some people, and comfort can come from many places, fortune-tellers included.
The study titled “Loss of Control Increases Belief in Precognition and Belief in Precognition Increases Control” can be found in the PLOS-One journal.
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