A new study has been conducted which discovered that psychic believers and believers in fortune-tellers are more likely to feel in control of their lives versus non-believers.
The study was conducted by a group of Australian researchers from the University of Queensland and led by a woman named Katharine Greenaway. They offered a hypothesis that states that a belief in psychic predictions is connected to a feeling of 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, several experiments were conducted. One of these experiments involved two groups of people who were instructed to read passages that either promoted or disputed the idea that scientists have found evidence of precognitive psychic powers.
Following the reading of the passages, the groups were then asked to rate how much they either agreed or disagreed with the statements about how much control they feel they have over their lives and circumstances.
The group that read the information which confirmed the existence of psychic powers were the ones that also agreed strongly with statements such as “my life is determined by my own actions” and “I am in control of my own life” over those in the opposite group.
So what causes the psychology of prediction? The reason for this is the fact that humans are constantly looking for patterns in things, and we are always looking for ways to make sense of the things that happen around us. An example of this would be gamblers who wear their “lucky shirt” to a casino or an athlete who performs the same ritual every time before a game for good luck.
In their study, the Australian 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, and also act to reduce psychological uncertainty about the future.”
“Our natural orientation towards prediction can sometimes manifest in extreme ways, with some people going 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 found in individuals who believe in conspiracies; for them it is mentally comforting to believe that major, tragic events (such as the 9/11 attacks or the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting) are part of a bigger scheme, whether they know what it is or not.
The study surmised that their experiment findings “help to 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 are a believer of 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.
You can find the study, titled “Loss of Control Increases Belief in Precognition and Belief in Precognition Increases Control”, can be found online in the PLOS-One journal.
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