This study represents the first attempt to explore the cognitive underpinnings and personality correlates of New Age practices and beliefs. Ninety-nine subjects from a general population sample completed a battery of self-report tests, including measures of New Age practices/ beliefs and traditional religiosity, as well as scales of schizotypy, neuroticism, and "boundaries". An experimental task consisting of a random display of changing dots was used to measure cognitive looseness. Results indicate that there was a relationship between New Age practices and beliefs and schizotypal personality traits, characterised by magical ideation, a cognitive disposition towards looseness of associations, and emotional hypersensitivity. Women were also more likely to be drawn to New Age practices and beliefs. On the other hand, traditional religiosity was unrelated to all personality indices and measures from the experimental task. These findings suggest that an individual may be attracted to the New Age by virtue of its magical belief system and practices, which provide meaning to unusual ideation and experiences, and which emphasise the exploration and development of a loose cognitive style and emotional sensitivity.
- Cognitive looseness
- Magical thinking
- New Age practices and beliefs
- Thin boundaries
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