Varieties of childhood maltreatment as predictors of adult paranormality and New Age Orientation

Rogers, Paul and Lowrie, Emma Louise (2016) Varieties of childhood maltreatment as predictors of adult paranormality and New Age Orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 92 . pp. 37-45. ISSN 0191-8869

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This study examines the degree to which varieties of childhood maltreatment (in)directly predict adult paranormal and New Age worldviews. Mediation analyses were performed with maltreatment types serving as potential predictors, facets of fantasy proneness as potential mediators and aspects of adult paranormality (anomalous experiences, beliefs, abilities and fears) plus a general New Age Orientation as five separate criteria measures. Several hypotheses were (partially) supported. First, child sexual abuse directly predicted more self-reported anomalous experiences, with parental threats of rejection directly predicting fewer anomalous fears in adulthood. Second, indirect relationships between childhood neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and instrumental parentification emerged for all criteria except anomalous fears, with these relationships mediated by at least one facet of fantasy proneness; either vivid/realistic and/or make-believe fantasising. These findings are consistent with Irwin's (2009) Psychodynamic Functions Hypothesis; the notion that adult paranormality offers an adaptive, needs-serving mechanism for coping with sense of diminished control often stemming from childhood trauma. Contrary to Irwin's model, childhood physical abuse, emotional parentification and parental threats of both abandonment and punishment failed to predict any outcome measure either directly or via more pronounced fantasising. Theoretical implications, methodological issues and ideas for future research are discussed.

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