Anomalistic Psychology Exam Questions

Topics: Psychology, President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln Pages: 2 (619 words) Published: January 6, 2015
June 2013

Most people have several dreams each night, and a small number of these dreams come true a week or so later. Former American president, Abraham Lincoln, is believed to have dreamt of his assassination, two weeks before it happened. Some people interpret dreams coming true as evidence for the paranormal. However, others assume that probability or coincidence can explain this anomalous experience. Explain why some people see dreams which later come true as evidence for the paranormal, whereas other people do not.

Use your knowledge of probability judgments and/or coincidence in your answer. (10 marks)
Mark scheme answer:
A coincidence is when two events happen about the same time and we assume that one causes the other. For example in this case about dreaming about the future which is known as pre-cognition, it might have been a coincidence that the former American president dreamt of his assassination two weeks before it actually happened. Believers are more likely to find a link to explain this because they do not accept coincidence as to be an explanation which then leads them to believe in anomalous experiences. However non-believers are more likely to accept coincidence as an explanation and relate it to probability. Believers are more likely to misjudge probability meaning that they underestimate the probability that certain events might happen at the same time by chance and therefore reject coincidence as an explanation for paranormal events. Blackmore and Troscianko (1985) suggested that paranormal experiences are a kind of cognitive illusion resulting in failure to accurately judge probability. The result is that certain people underestimate probability and attribute causality when in fact the events are simply random. The president might have got that dream because he might have heard rumours about his assassination which led him to have a dream about it. On the other hand the non-believers might think that there might have been...
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