The relationship between false memory and paranormal belief
The thesis investigates the effects of false memory and belief in the paranormal on reports of events. The first chapter reviews the existing literature on false memory. The main theories of how false memory develops are described and the individual differences of those susceptible to false memories are considered. The paranormal belief literature is then examined, particularly with regard to the cognitive differences between believers and disbelievers. It is concluded that these differences would be suggestive of a relationship between paranormal belief and false memory. The second chapter considers the relationship between imagination inflation, paranormal belief and ESP. No correlation between the factors was found. The third chapter examines whether pre-event suggestion and belief in the paranormal can affect experiences of `ghostly' phenomena in an allegedly haunted location. Evidence for the effect of belief in the paranormal was found, but there was no effect of pre-event suggestion or an interaction between the two factors. The fourth chapter investigates the effects of positive and negative during-event suggestion and paranormal belief on reports of events in the seance room, and the fifth chapter explores the effects of duringevent suggestion on reports of a key bending video. There was some evidence that during-event suggestion is effective in altering reports of events, and the causes for this effect are considered. Paranormal belief was not shown to consistently affect acceptance of suggestion, but may affect reports of phenomena which are judged to be paranormal. The thesis concludes that during-event suggestion and negative suggestion are areas which offer great potential for further research. The relationship between paranormal belief and false memory development has not been demonstrated. However, it has been shown that belief and suggestion can affect the manner in which situations are attended to and interpreted.