Seeing is believing : why delusions may arise from anomalous experiences
Abstract (Via Wiley & Mouse Trap)
Children’s magical explanations and beliefs were investigated in 2 studies. In Study 1, we first asked 4- and 5-year-old children to judge the possibility of certain object transformations and to suggest mechanisms that might accomplish them. We then presented several commonplace transformations (e.g., cutting a string) and impossible events (magic tricks). Prior to viewing these transformations, children suggested predominantly physical mechanisms for the events and judged the magical ones to be impossible. After seeing the impossible events, many 4-year-olds explained them as “magic,” whereas 5- year-olds explained them as “tricks.” In Study 2, we replaced the magic tricks with “extraordinary” events brought about by physical or chemical reactions (e.g., heat causing paint on a toy car to change color). Prior to viewing the “extraordinary” transformations, children judged them to be impossible. After viewing these events, 4-yearolds gave more magical and fewer physical explanations than did 5-year-olds. Follow-up interviews revealed that most 4-year-olds viewed magic as possible under the control of an agent (magician) with special powers, whereas most 5-year-olds viewed magic as tricks that anyone can learn. In a third study, we surveyed parents to assess their perceptions and conceptions of children’s beliefs in magic and fantasy flgures. Parents perceived their children as believing in a number of magic and fantasy flgures and reported encouraging such beliefs to some degree. Taken together, these findings suggest that many 4-year-olds view magic as a plausible mechanism, yet reserve magical explanations for certain real world events which violate their causal expectations.
Additional Excerpt (Via The Mouse Trap)
It is now known that many people prone to psychosis suffer from an unusual amounts of anomalous experiences and also have magical ideation. To those of us who do not have those unusual experiences, it is very easy to dismiss what the effects having such anomalous experiences would have on our causal thinking abilities. We in our blue-pill Matrix where things are ordered and in their place following known causal relations, believe everything is fine with the world. to someone who has taken the red pill and is having anomalous experiences, it is difficult to believe that there isn’t a world apart from the matrix where magical rules may apply! (OK, the matrix analogy is not good, but it does make a point that it is difficult to comprehend the reality that someone delusional may be living in).
To return to my example of thinking of calling someone and picking the phone and at the same time receibving a callfor that perosn, such coincidences may be marked as causal by psychosis prone minds beacue again they have been hypothesized to have high and sensitive coincidence detectors and a ‘jump to conclusions’ bias.