Development and Validation of a Porous Theory of Mind Scale

Journal of Cognition and Culture 20 (1-2):41-65 (2020)
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Abstract

We report the results of an empirical investigation of the extent to which supernatural believers endorse a porous conception of the mind, i.e., the belief that one’s thoughts can be directly perceived by others. We developed a porous theory of mind scale, tested its factor structure by using both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, and showed its relation with supernatural beliefs in three studies in the Netherlands and one study with North-American participants. We found that endorsement of a PToM is positively related to paranormal beliefs. We also showed that the endorsement of a porous view of the mind differs in meaningful ways between people from different religious backgrounds. The finding that supernatural believers endorse a porous conception of the mind fits well with recent work in the field of the anthropology of religion and the psychology of paranormal beliefs. We propose that our PToM scale provides a parsimonious measurement tool that circumvents socially desirable responding, while providing direct insight in the endorsement of paranormal beliefs.

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