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Predictors and Associates of Problem–Reaction–Solution: Statistical Bias, Emotion-Based Reasoning, and Belief in the Paranormal

Drinkwater, K and Dagnall, N and Denovan, Andrew and Parker, Andrew and Clough, P (2018) Predictors and Associates of Problem–Reaction–Solution: Statistical Bias, Emotion-Based Reasoning, and Belief in the Paranormal. SAGE Open, 8 (1). pp. 1-11. ISSN 2158-2440

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Abstract

Major conspiracy theorists propose that problem–reaction–solution (PRS) functions as a mechanism for constructing and exaggerating social problems to garner populist support for the implementation (imposition) of laws that society would normally deem unacceptable. To evaluate this supposition, 248 participants recruited through convenience sampling, completed measures assessing PRS, statistical bias, emotion-based reasoning (EBR), and belief in the paranormal. Structural equation modeling revealed differential relationships existed between components of statistical bias, EBR, and belief endorsement (PRS and paranormal). Specifically, proneness to conjunction error predicted PRS, whereas misperception of randomness and to an extent EBR best explained belief in the paranormal. These results indicated that respondents were willing to accept PRS scenarios as legitimate and validate PRS-proposed solutions based on rational rather than emotional appeal.

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