Public Release: 

Belief in precognition increases sense of control over life

Loss of control increases belief in precognition, belief in precognition increases control

PLOS

People given scientific evidence supporting our ability to predict the future feel a greater sense of control over their lives, according to research published August 7 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Katharine Greenaway and colleagues from the University of Queensland, Australia.

One group of study participants read a paragraph stating that researchers had found evidence supporting the existence of precognition, while another group read a related paper that refuted these findings. Both papers were published in the same issue of a scientific journal. On a subsequent survey, people who read the paper confirming our ability to predict the future agreed more strongly with statements like "I am in control of my own life", "My life is determined by my own actions" and "I am able to live my life how I wish" than the group who read a paper denying the existence of precognition.

In a second experiment, participants who were made to feel a loss of control and then asked to read the same pieces reported feeling an increased sense of control after reading about the existence of precognition, but not when they read that it did not exist. People who were made to feel more in control of their lives before reading and answering questions reported no difference in their subsequent sense of control. Based on these studies, the researchers conclude that psychic predictability can provide the psychological system with a compensatory boost in perceived control. As Greenaway explains, "Humans are predisposed towards prediction; we like to know what is going to happen in our lives. Belief in paranormal abilities like precognition can help people meet this need for predictability by making us feel as though we can control our destiny."

The study concludes, "We found that people were drawn to predictability when they experienced loss of control-even to the extent of endorsing seemingly irrational beliefs about precognition."

###

Citation: Greenaway KH, Louis WR, Hornsey MJ (2013) Loss of Control Increases Belief in Precognition and Belief in Precognition Increases Control. PLOS ONE 8(8): e71327. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071327

Financial Disclosure: Preparation of this paper was facilitated by support to the lead author from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research: Social Interactions, Identity, and Well-being Program. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLEASE LINK TO THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT (URL goes live after the embargo ends): http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071327

Disclaimer: This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLOS ONE. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLOS. PLOS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.

About PLOS ONE: PLOS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLOS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.

All works published in PLOS ONE are Open Access. Everything is immediately available--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases and otherwise use--without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authors and source are properly attributed. For more information about PLOS ONE relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and our embargo policy, see the everyONE blog at http://everyone.plos.org/media.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.