The Big 5 personality Traits and the Paranormal

The Big 5 personality Traits & the Paranormal

Dr.Saad Ramzi Al- Hashimi, PhD -Health Sciences MSc-(hon) in Med Ultrasound.RMSKS.

Dr.Saad Ramzi Al- Hashimi, PhD -Health Sciences

My Review of the Big five Traits and the Paranormal


Paranormal is the field of the unknown. I describe it as P.A.R.A.N.O.R.M.A.L

P= Personality Traits


R=Resistant to believe in the unseen, unheard, unfelt, and anything that our body cannot touch.

A=Agreeableness, Anxiety

N=Neuroticism, navigating the problem

O= Over imagination,


M=Moodiness, mayhems, making sense of the fact

A=Achieving and adopting

L=Learning, low frequency, labeling each experience into a term.

Given that the Big Five are empirically supported to potentially be considered a human universal (McCrae & Costa, 1997), this study will assess personality in accordance with measures of the Big Five. The Big Five Personality Traits pertain to openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, also known now as emotional stability.

No alt text provided for this image

1-Openness refers to being open to experience. It involves imagination, understanding of one’s feelings, and intellectual curiosity.

2-Conscientiousness pertains to levels of efficiency, organization, and systematic behavior

3- Extraversion assesses the level a person is outgoing, energetic, or sociable.

 4-Agreeableness is characterized by how friendly, approachable, easy to work with, or sympathetic a person is.

5-Finally, neuroticism, or emotional stability, is seen as anxiety, moodiness, low resiliency, or jealousy (Thompson, 2008).

No alt text provided for this image

Things we cannot explain, or see. Black cats being bad luck, number 13, numerology, demonology, and other superstitious ideas, communicating with the dead, moving things with your mind, witches, and astrology—all are examples of what could be considered paranormal.

However, what is paranormal for one person may not always be paranormal for the other. Literature concerning paranormal belief in psychology is growing, but still contains much controversy. Most paranormal researcher and so called expert they didn’t even finish a science degree.

This is partially due to varying definitions of what is and is not paranormal by researchers (Irwin, 1998). Despite this, in North America alone more than 50% of adults believe in psychic powers and extrasensory perception (Rice, 2003).

Even with the rise of the paranormal in the media, whether it is in movies, books, or television, there is still a stigma on those who believe in the supernatural to exist. Some due to the negative pretrial of the movie industry and the fake shows, staged shows that led to many people distrust and lose interest in this pseudoscience. But we cannot cancel the real evidence and the trust in the paranormal incidents, that I myself witnessed it since the age of 5.

 As researcher Gordon Claridge put it, “Socio-cultural influences often dictate whom we label mystic and whom we label psychotic.” (Claridge, 2010, p.75) Personality could very well be a factor in whether or not a person subscribes to these beliefs. Why is Paranormal Belief So Hard to Define?

One of the major issues in studying, measuring, and reporting information about paranormal belief comes from the fact that rarely do definitions of what is and is not paranormal stay consistent across studies in the field. Some researchers might classify belief in religion as being paranormal or supernatural, others might not.

 Lindeman and Svedholm note that belief in witches has been linked in various studies to being either paranormal, supernatural, magical, or even superstitious (Lindeman & Svedholm, 2012). They also point out that another major conflict within the field that is preventing cohesiveness is varying definitions as to what 1 paranormal, superstitious, magical, and supernatural even mean.

No true, accepted definition of these constructs exists that is universally held in the field. In fact, when analyzing literature in the field, Lindeman and Svedholm propose that the concepts of paranormal, supernatural, magical, and superstition are not fundamentally different from one another (Lindeman & Svedholm, 2012).

No alt text provided for this image

They also suggest that any discrepancies between the terms and their meanings are likely a matter of connotation instead of any firm division or difference in definition between constructs. Like others before them, such as Irwin (1998), Lindeman and Svedholm encourage further research and the development of a cohesive definition of these terms in order to make research more effective. What Demographics Tend to Believe? Paranormal belief appears to be affected by gender and by education level.

 Research has found that women were more likely to believe in witchcraft, superstition, traditional religious belief, spiritualism, precognition, and psi than men, but men were more likely to believe in extraterrestrial life. It has also been reported that students of vocational schools tend to have higher paranormal beliefs than their university counterparts, except in areas of religious belief, in which there was no difference between the groups surveyed (Aarnio & Lindeman, 2004).

When looking at ethnicity, however, there does not appear to be a simple answer. According to Tobacyk, Miller, Murphy, and Mitchell, African-American university students appear to hold stronger beliefs than their Caucasian counterparts in spiritualism, superstition, and witchcraft.

This same study showed that Caucasians tend to hold higher levels of traditional religious belief and belief in extraordinary life forms (Tobacyk, et al., 1988). 2 Similarly, other research has shown that paranormal beliefs, with the exception of traditional religious belief, are more widely held by younger persons rather than older persons (Emmons & Sobal, 1981). With closer examination, there appears to be no relationship between age and belief in UFOs (Randall, 1990).

Pros and Cons of Paranormal Belief

Researchers have suggested that paranormal beliefs could be used by persons to cope with a chaotic and unpredictable world (Perkins, 2001). Others have proposed that paranormal belief is a result of fantasy proneness, where a person has a set of characteristics that make them more likely to engage in fantasy more than the average person. This involves spending excess time fantasizing, reporting vivid childhood memories, experiencing paranormal phenomena, having fantasies so vivid that they come close to hallucinations, or even having intense religious experiences (Wilson & Barber, 1983).

A recent study of current literature also showed that, in general, believers in the paranormal tend to “make more deductive reasoning errors and display more delusional ideation, have poorer impulse control and organizations in executive functioning, perceive chance events and unchosen experiences as meaningfully connected, be more susceptible to suggestions consistent with their own paranormal beliefs, be prone to hindsight and confirmatory biases” which aid in “impairing the critical thinking processes”, and finally “be more fantasy prone, have higher levels of dissociativity, absorption and creativity; be unusually prone to false memories.” (Soh, Lee, Ng, & Chee, 2011, p.3) However, not all research agrees that belief in the unexplained and paranormal is damaging to the psyche or indicative of mental illness.

Clarke demonstrated that participants 3 who scored high on belief in spiritualism, psychic ability, and superstition correlated positively with high scores on self-actualization. Essentially, persons in this study who were self-directing, self-accepting, and were capable of freely expressing their emotions tended to also have more of these paranormal beliefs than their counterparts (Clarke, 1993).

Research has also found that paranormal belief is not always an indicator of mental illness, but could instead be related to religious followers or those experiencing religious experiences (Matteo, Vellante, & Preti, 2012). Some researchers (Claridge, 2011; Jackson 1997) even suggest a healthy form of schizotypy or psychoticism, which tends to have a common thread of belief in the paranormal or unusual experiences, can be related to positive outcomes, such as religious experience and creativity.

 Paranormal Belief, Schizophrenia, and its Subsets, Schizotypy can be seen as a possible vulnerability to developing schizophrenia with cognitive, perceptual, and affective symptoms (Meehl, 1990). Essentially, those who test highly for markers for schizotypy are more likely to develop similar symptoms to schizophrenia or a psychosis similar to schizophrenia (Swami, Pietschnig, Stieger & Voracek, 2010).

 Characteristic of schizotypy is a possible belief in magical thinking, unusual experiences, or delusional thoughts (Swami et al., 2010). It has been shown as early as 1974 that those who said they believed in extraordinary phenomena tend to receive higher scores in Hypomania and Schizophrenia scales when administered the MMPI (Windholz & Diamant, 1974).

This has lead into much research in paranormal belief paired with schizotypy, such as the study done by Thalbourne and French. Their study showed that persons believing in and claiming experience of extrasensory 4 perception, psychokinesis, life after death, and possibly other extraordinary phenomena, tended to score higher on measures geared towards detecting schizoaffective disorder and schizotypy (Thalbourne & French, 1995).

But is schizotypy always negative? Jackson (1997) proposed the idea that there could be a form of benign schizotypy in the form of religious experiences. He argues that there could be areas of value in this category, along the lines of problem solving benefits. Recently, schizotypy has been associated with aspects of religious belief and New Age practices (Farias, Claridge, & Lalljee, 2005).

With closer examination, there appears to be no relationship between age and belief in UFOs (Randall, 1990). In other research following this line of thought, McCreery and Claridge (2002) found that perfectly functional and mentally healthy persons who believed in having experienced an out of body experience received higher scores on measures of psychoticism which can be related to traits of schizotypy. Since these were normal, average, mentally healthy individuals, it suggests that just because one scores high on some aspect of paranormal belief, does not mean there is some sort of deficiency.

No alt text provided for this image

It is possible that belief in the paranormal is not exclusive to mental illness or indicative of it, but rather some other facet of personality or effects of a belief system.

Personality and Paranormal Belief  

Research looking at the Big Five in relation to belief in the paranormal yields mixed results and is also sparse. There is some evidence showing that there is a relationship between paranormal belief, neuroticism, and extraversion (Thalbourne, Dunbar, & Delin, 1995; Thalbourne & Haraldsson, 1980), while other research has found no such relationship between these variables (Willing & Lester, 1997). This is surprising, given that neuroticism is generally characterized as the state of 5 being moody, emotional, or anxious (Thompson, 2008) and there has been research confirming that superstition, a subset of paranormal belief, is highly related to these states (Wiseman & Watt, 2004).

Further, persons with high levels of anxiety are known to have a high need for a sense of control (Irwin, 2000), which would provide a possible explanation for a higher level of belief in superstitious practices or constructs. However, a major flaw to many of these studies, as pointed out by Wiseman and Watt, is that the Revised Paranormal Belief scale, which is possibly the most widely used scale to assess various levels of belief in the paranormal and is, in fact, used in this current study, only has what are seen as negative superstitious beliefs that relate to unfortunate things happening to the person.

There is no assessment of positive superstitious beliefs, such as bringing good fortune or positive experiences. Other research has shown that the openness factor of the Big Five is related to belief in the paranormal, education, and scores on the unusual experience factor of schizotypy (Swami et al., 2010). According to a report done by McCrae showing data, persons who score high on the Openness factor of the Big Five tend to be more flexible, experience seeking, and creative, among others (McCrae, 1996).

It is possible that this natural affinity towards flexibility and experience seeking predisposes persons scoring high on Openness towards a higher likelihood of entertaining belief in paranormal phenomena and concepts, since persons scoring lower on Openness would, hypothetically, be less likely to modify their current belief system or consider extraordinary phenomena.

Even when researching personality outside of the traditional Big Five of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, such as the research by Auton, Pope, and Seeger (2003), there appears to be no difference in personality traits in high or low 6 believers of paranormal phenomena. This is in contradiction of research by Tobacyk and Mitchell (1987) who found data to support a connection between narcissistic personality traits and paranormal belief.

The Current Study, due to the difficulty of defining paranormal belief, paranormal belief for this study has been limited in this study to the areas studied in the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale proposed by Dr. Jerome J. Tobacyk. This scale measures traditional religious belief, witchcraft, superstition, spiritualism, extraordinary life forms, precognition, and psi (Tobacyk, 2004).

Following the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale, traditional religious belief is held as the idea that there is a single or multiple gods, a heaven and a hell, a devil, and a soul that continues to exist after the physical body dies.

Witchcraft is assessed as a belief that witches and black 7 magic exist and that there is an ability to cast spells. Superstition is limited to the belief of certain things or events being unlucky, such as breaking a mirror being bad luck.

Spiritualism is seen as a belief that spirits can communicate with the living and that spirits can freely travel, with or without bodies.

An extraordinary life form is defined as life forms outside of the norm, such as extraterrestrials or the Loch Ness Monster. Precognition is the belief in predicting the future, such as through psychic ability or reading the stars.

Psi refers to paranormal processes such as extrasensory perception and psychokinesis, or the ability to move things with one’s mind. Look into this research that done by one of the university researcher ;

The Aim

This study’s goal is to research paranormal belief and its relation to the Big Five Personality Traits.

There does not appear to be much literature in the field comparing the two, as most studies focus on the connection between the spectrum of schizophrenia and belief in the paranormal or paranormal belief and religiosity. As such, this study aims to add more data to the field, encourage and contribute further research in the relationship of personality in this complex belief system, and assist in eventual cohesion of the literature.

The Proposed Hypotheses

This study proposes the following hypotheses:

1) There would be a relationship between personality traits and paranormal belief.

2) When measured against the Big Five, paranormal belief would correlate positively with Openness.

3) When measured against the Big Five, paranormal belief would correlate negatively with Neuroticism.

Although the third hypothesis is counterintuitive, the flaw of the Revised Paranormal Belief scale to only measure negative superstitions, as well as the bulk of literature that specifically 8 associates anxiety and other neurotic personality characteristics to the superstition subscale (Wiseman & Watt, 2004), leads to the possibility of belief in the paranormal as a whole, as measured by the Revised Paranormal Belief scale, to be negatively related,



The study consisted of four hundred forty-six participants recruited through a southeastern university’s SONA system. The participants were able to sign up for and respond to the study through the SONA system. Upon completion, they received .25 SONA credits as compensation. All participants were treated in accordance with APA guidelines.

Materials and Procedures

Data was collected using two surveys: Mini-markers, which is a brief version of Goldberg’s unipolar Big-Five markers (Saucier, 1994), and the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale (Tobacyk, 2004). Participants were also asked basic demographic questions in order to gain a more comprehensive view of the sample.


Participants were asked a total of 12 demographic questions. Such questions assessed age range, gender, ethnicity, and religion, number of siblings, parental marital status, socioeconomic status, parental education levels, participant education level, and current academic year standing of the participant. (See Appendix A)


The Mini-markers assessment of the Big Five contains 40 adjectives that participants use to describe themselves as accurately as possible. For each of the five dimensions of personality there are 8 adjectives that correspond to it. A 9-point scale is used for each adjective (1=extremely inaccurate and 9=extremely accurate).

 Results are taken at face value, with some values being positive and some being negative. These positive and negative values are then added or subtracted accordingly and divided by 8, the number of total adjectives per 10 dimensions, to achieve the mean response for a given dimension.

This scale was chosen for its short length, so as to decrease participant fatigue, and reasonable assessment of the Big Five dimensions (Saucier, 1994). (See Appendix B)

 Paranormal belief

The Revised Paranormal Belief Scale contains 26 items with a 7- point rating scale for each statement (1=strongly agree and 7=strongly disagree). Responses are taken at face value, aside from number 23 whose response is reversed, and added together to determine the score. The revised version of this scale has been shown to have higher reliability and validity than its predecessor and also an increased cross-cultural validity (Tobacyk, 2004).

The Revised Paranormal Belief Scale measures 7 aspects of paranormal belief: traditional religious belief, psi, witchcraft, superstition, spiritualism, extraordinary life forms, and precognition.

 Statistical analyses

Frequency data was taken from the demographic questionnaire. A backwards multiple regressions were used to see to what extent demographic information and scores on the mini-markers could predict scores on the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale.


Frequency analyses were run on the demographic information provided by the participants. Graphs visually representing this data are available in Appendix F, Figures F1-F10. An alpha level of .05 was used for the following test. in the original study at the university.

A backwards multiple regression was conducted with the following predictor variables: age, gender, ethnicity/ethnic affiliation, religion/religious affiliation, father’s marital status, mother’s marital status, number of siblings, socioeconomic status of family, father education level, mother education level, participant education level, participant year in college, extraversion score, conscientiousness score, openness score, agreeableness score, and neuroticism score, with score on the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale as the outcome variable.

The final model produced an R square of .103, which was statistically significant at F (5, 425) = 9.733, p

This is my study review of The research done by Autumn Perdue at the University of Central Florida . The Relationship between the Big Five Personality Traits and Paranormal Belief Autumn Perdue University of Central Florida

Part of the Psychology Commons Find similar works at: University of Central Florida Libraries

For more information, please contact Recommended Citation Perdue, autumn,

The Relationship between the Big Five Personality Traits and Paranormal Belief (2013), HIM 1990-2015-1540

In my review, the problem with this study is that If you are (Jewish, Christians, and Muslims) who trust and believe in their religion, they will give you a different answer, more sound and more fit with the holly books, theological answers, and more logical answer than those who believing in other theology such as the Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, communism and atheism. It is not true that all paranormal is related to a psychosis state of mind, the majority of the paranormal experience by Christians are related to a psychological problem, while a very low number found in the Jewish and the Muslims in my study.

I found that the majority of demonic experience found to be related directly to the believe of the person and in higher number in the Hindu and Buddhist population, the majority of human spirits was equally distributed among all the group in my study that I conducted since 1968, More personality disorders found among the wide spectrum of all groups almost 2%, and it related directly to the paranormal incidents. The more psychosis and schizophrenia the person have the more paranormal incident he or she will have.

No alt text provided for this image

This study is great start, and it follow the scientific method but it needs a power study and that is to ask 10,000 participants including all the religion spectrum and faith, children and adult, men and women, all colors and educational level. Then study the result according to the cultural, religious background, social, and economical level and use the key factors of psychological and emotional level of the person approved by a doctor. Also we must correlate the 5 personality Traits with each psychological problem in relation to paranormal, and the influence of faith and religious experience, dreams, and post traumatic syndromes.

 Please read more terms and analysis in my article A to Z of the paranormal in my blog at this blog .

Saad Ismail Al- Hashimi, Ph.D.  

Related Images:

By Dr.Steve Ramsey,PhD

Greeting from Calgary, Alberta - Canada. My name is Saad Al-Hashimi. Known as Steve Ramsey PhD, I am the founder and the director of the Paranormal zone- Haunting Dimensions. That deals with an investigation, debunking, and healing/cleansing since 1986. Having had many unexplainable experiences from a young age at a possible "haunted" house where plenty of things seemed to happen that I couldn’t explain, since that time and I am looking and searching for an answer. After continuing to have many experiences that I just cannot explain, I have since become a firm believer that GHOSTS do exist. I continued for a short while as a member of a few other paranormal groups until I was very fortunate to become involved with a local fast growing organization where I felt very comfortable to start my own paranormal investigation. My best experience has been Indio California, Okotoks Alberta, Baghdad city , and many other places in Greece and North Canada. (yes I do believe spirits can hurt you so you have to be careful not to provoke or challenge a spirit ). I won’t tell you the whole story now but you are more than welcome to ask me on a ghost hunt. I am now looking forward to meeting many more people, all looking for that ‘experience’ that could possibly convince them that there is something more to life than we first thought. So please feel free to email me I have been involved in several paranormal groups over the years. Paranormal Adventures is different and exciting in ways I couldn’t possibly get before. When people ask if I believe in ghosts, I say I am a skeptical believer. I have had many encounters with spirit forms and believe what I have seen to be real and unexplainable. I always look for a normal mundane reason why at the same time. My area of expertise in the field of science. I have Ph.D. in Public Health from the USA, Master degree in Medical Ultrasound and BSc Degree in Diagnostic Imaging from Charles Sturt University Australia, BSc in Physics, and Radiology diploma from Iraq, Pharmacy diploma. Radiography diploma from London Ontario, Diploma in Natural Health from Quebec, Canada. Radiation physics from Australia, I studied the infra and ultrasound in the animal kingdom.P resented more than 20 lectures in Iraq, Greece, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Canada and I am the peer reviewer for the radiographer journal in UK, Netherlands, and South Africa. Earned the 3rd award for excellence in ultrasound - Canada 2005. I am also armature archaeologist, painter, calligrapher, and used to run acting theater play in Iraq- Baghdad, wrote, directed and acted in more than 27 plays. So debunking come naturally in my science and technology back round, and not like other debunking people around you who use Google for their search and call them self-debunkers, It doesn't work that way. In the near future, I will run live internet ghost hunts with night vision cameras giving users at home the chance to watch the spooky footage on, in my nights out. I look forward to seeing you all soon on one of our many events! I loved reading ghost stories and sitting on my own in the dark watching horror films. However. I Can decode dreams, and I see spirits in my dreams. I like to look at things from a scientific point of view and try to rule out all rational possibilities before concluding that events are paranormal. However, I do try to keep an open mind on all investigations. I started taking part in investigations since 1986; my first investigation usually any house, apartment that I move in or my friend's places. For many of my true paranormal stories you can read them at I will try to copy and move all my articles here in this site in near future. Thank you for reading and God Bless you all. Steve Ramsey PhD. Alberta