chapter  7
25 Pages

Developmental Disabilities and the Paranormal


Belief in the paranormal is common in Western societies, as well as in nations such as Russia and areas such as South Asia and parts of Africa (Kruglyakov, 2002; Lugo, Cooperman, Bell, O’Connell, & Stencel, 2012; Moore, 2005). Recently, a Gallup Poll found that 73% of Americans believe in one or more supernatural or paranormal phenomena (Moore, 2005). While this is a decrease from earlier results that indicated paranormal belief in more than 90% of Americans (Gallup & Newport, 1990; Markovsky & Thye, 2001), these results illustrate that it remains culturally typical in this society to hold at least some beliefs in the supernatural or paranormal. In the United Kingdom, a poll gauging supernatural beliefs found that 68% of people believed in ghosts and spirits, while 55% believed in God (Associated Press, 2005). Some studies have found that women were more likely to report paranormal beliefs and experiences than were men (Aarnio & Lindeman, 2005; MacDonald, 1995), although other studies have not found a difference in beliefs based on gender (Genovese, 2005; Moore, 2005). Considering the wide prevalence of paranormal and supernatural beliefs, it is important to consider how these beliefs may influence thinking and decision making in other areas of life.