Study Finds 2 Psychological Factors Influence Supernatural Encounters

According to interviews and surveys of over 2,000 people across the United States, Ghana, Thailand, China, and Vanuatu, two pivotal factors shape people’s perceived experience with a spiritual presence: porosity and absorption. Porosity refers to the degree to which people view their internal mind and the outside world as permeable, while absorption references how much individuals tend to “lose themselves” in sensory experiences. These factors can predict whether a person is likely to report vivid experiences with gods or spirits. “What we experience is shaped by how we pay attention,” study co-author Tanya Luhrmann tells Inverse. Luhrmann is a medical and psychological anthropologist at Stanford University. “Our pattern of paying attention really does affect what comes to feel real.”

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