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Perceptual Biases in Relation to Paranormal and Conspiracy Beliefs.

van Elk M - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Previous studies have shown that one's prior beliefs have a strong effect on perceptual decision-making and attentional processing.In the second experiment, it was found that skeptics showed a classical 'global-to-local' interference effect, whereas believers in conspiracy theories were characterized by a stronger 'local-to-global interference effect'.The present study shows that individual differences in paranormal and conspiracy beliefs are associated with perceptual and attentional biases, thereby extending the growing body of work in this field indicating effects of cultural learning on basic perceptual processes.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Amsterdam Brain and Cognition Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Previous studies have shown that one's prior beliefs have a strong effect on perceptual decision-making and attentional processing. The present study extends these findings by investigating how individual differences in paranormal and conspiracy beliefs are related to perceptual and attentional biases. Two field studies were conducted in which visitors of a paranormal conducted a perceptual decision making task (i.e. the face/house categorization task; Experiment 1) or a visual attention task (i.e. the global/local processing task; Experiment 2). In the first experiment it was found that skeptics compared to believers more often incorrectly categorized ambiguous face stimuli as representing a house, indicating that disbelief rather than belief in the paranormal is driving the bias observed for the categorization of ambiguous stimuli. In the second experiment, it was found that skeptics showed a classical 'global-to-local' interference effect, whereas believers in conspiracy theories were characterized by a stronger 'local-to-global interference effect'. The present study shows that individual differences in paranormal and conspiracy beliefs are associated with perceptual and attentional biases, thereby extending the growing body of work in this field indicating effects of cultural learning on basic perceptual processes.

No MeSH data available.


Accuracy for the face / house categorization task.The left graph represents the accuracy for believers and the right graph for skeptics. The x-axis represents the different levels of visual noise (40%, 50%, 60% and 70%). Dark lines represent responses to face stimuli and light lines represent responses to house stimuli. Error bars represent standard errors.
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pone.0130422.g003: Accuracy for the face / house categorization task.The left graph represents the accuracy for believers and the right graph for skeptics. The x-axis represents the different levels of visual noise (40%, 50%, 60% and 70%). Dark lines represent responses to face stimuli and light lines represent responses to house stimuli. Error bars represent standard errors.

Mentions: The accuracy in categorization responses as a function of stimulus type is represented in Fig 3. A main effect of Stimulus was found, F(1, 53) = 16.0, p < .001, η2 = .23, indicating a higher accuracy for the categorization of house stimuli (mean accuracy = .79) compared to face stimuli (mean accuracy = .70). An interaction between Stimulus and the RPBS score was found, F(1, 53) = 10.8, p < .001, η2 = .17, reflecting that the effect of stimulus on accuracy was modulated by the score on the RPBS. As expected, a main effect of Noise was found, F(3, 159) = 81.0, p < .001, η2 = .60, indicating that with increased levels of visual noise the accuracy decreased (see Fig 3). Noise also interacted with the score on the RPBS, F(3,159) = 3.8, p < .05, η2 = .07. These main effects were qualified by a significant interaction between Stimulus and Noise, F(3, 159) = 11.8, p < .001, η2 = .18 and an interaction between Stimulus, Noise and the RPBS score, F(3, 159) = 6.9, p < .001, η2 = .12.


Perceptual Biases in Relation to Paranormal and Conspiracy Beliefs.

van Elk M - PLoS ONE (2015)

Accuracy for the face / house categorization task.The left graph represents the accuracy for believers and the right graph for skeptics. The x-axis represents the different levels of visual noise (40%, 50%, 60% and 70%). Dark lines represent responses to face stimuli and light lines represent responses to house stimuli. Error bars represent standard errors.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4482736&req=5

pone.0130422.g003: Accuracy for the face / house categorization task.The left graph represents the accuracy for believers and the right graph for skeptics. The x-axis represents the different levels of visual noise (40%, 50%, 60% and 70%). Dark lines represent responses to face stimuli and light lines represent responses to house stimuli. Error bars represent standard errors.
Mentions: The accuracy in categorization responses as a function of stimulus type is represented in Fig 3. A main effect of Stimulus was found, F(1, 53) = 16.0, p < .001, η2 = .23, indicating a higher accuracy for the categorization of house stimuli (mean accuracy = .79) compared to face stimuli (mean accuracy = .70). An interaction between Stimulus and the RPBS score was found, F(1, 53) = 10.8, p < .001, η2 = .17, reflecting that the effect of stimulus on accuracy was modulated by the score on the RPBS. As expected, a main effect of Noise was found, F(3, 159) = 81.0, p < .001, η2 = .60, indicating that with increased levels of visual noise the accuracy decreased (see Fig 3). Noise also interacted with the score on the RPBS, F(3,159) = 3.8, p < .05, η2 = .07. These main effects were qualified by a significant interaction between Stimulus and Noise, F(3, 159) = 11.8, p < .001, η2 = .18 and an interaction between Stimulus, Noise and the RPBS score, F(3, 159) = 6.9, p < .001, η2 = .12.

Bottom Line: Previous studies have shown that one's prior beliefs have a strong effect on perceptual decision-making and attentional processing.In the second experiment, it was found that skeptics showed a classical 'global-to-local' interference effect, whereas believers in conspiracy theories were characterized by a stronger 'local-to-global interference effect'.The present study shows that individual differences in paranormal and conspiracy beliefs are associated with perceptual and attentional biases, thereby extending the growing body of work in this field indicating effects of cultural learning on basic perceptual processes.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Amsterdam Brain and Cognition Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Previous studies have shown that one's prior beliefs have a strong effect on perceptual decision-making and attentional processing. The present study extends these findings by investigating how individual differences in paranormal and conspiracy beliefs are related to perceptual and attentional biases. Two field studies were conducted in which visitors of a paranormal conducted a perceptual decision making task (i.e. the face/house categorization task; Experiment 1) or a visual attention task (i.e. the global/local processing task; Experiment 2). In the first experiment it was found that skeptics compared to believers more often incorrectly categorized ambiguous face stimuli as representing a house, indicating that disbelief rather than belief in the paranormal is driving the bias observed for the categorization of ambiguous stimuli. In the second experiment, it was found that skeptics showed a classical 'global-to-local' interference effect, whereas believers in conspiracy theories were characterized by a stronger 'local-to-global interference effect'. The present study shows that individual differences in paranormal and conspiracy beliefs are associated with perceptual and attentional biases, thereby extending the growing body of work in this field indicating effects of cultural learning on basic perceptual processes.

No MeSH data available.