Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ghost busting: Study examines influence of media messages on perceptions of paranormal investigators' credibility

Date:
October 24, 2012
Source:
University of Delaware
Summary:
Media messages describing paranormal investigators as "scientific" makes people more likely to "believe."

Media messages describing paranormal investigators as "scientific" makes people more likely to "believe."
Credit: Vitalez / Fotolia

The fourth installment of the Paranormal Activity films topped the box office last week. Television channel SyFy's hit show Ghost Hunters scares up big ratings, and has spawned copycat series on networks ranging from Biography to Animal Planet.

The omnipresence of paranormal entertainment piqued the interest of Paul Brewer, professor of communication at the University of Delaware, who wondered what makes viewers believe -- or disbelieve -- what they see on the screen.

His resulting study, recently published in the journal Science Communication, examines the influence of media messages about paranormal investigators on how people perceive the investigators' credibility. Brewer conducted an experiment asking participants to read one of four versions of a newspaper article. After reading the selected article participants filled out a questionnaire.

"It wasn't just any story about paranormal investigators that made people believe in ghosts and haunted houses," Brewer said, "it was a story about how they were scientific."

One version of the article described a paranormal investigator's "scientific" approach to his work, including his use of various instruments, items Brewer describes as "trappings of science."

One specifically mentioned in the article is an electromagnetic field (EMF) detector, used to locate sources of electricity. Members of the group who read this article were much more likely to call the investigators scientific and credible, as well as to believe in the paranormal. Brewer said the findings could trouble paranormal skeptics.

"They might look at this and say, well, all it takes is to sprinkle some acronyms in there and wave around cool looking things that beep and suddenly people believe in ghosts and haunted houses."

Still, his findings do offer some solace to skeptics. Another version of the article in the study was identical to the "scientific" version until the end, where an extra paragraph was added. It quoted a professor debunking the investigators' expertise. That article's group was swayed by the opposing viewpoint and rated the investigators' credibility at levels below the first group.

"What the media can do, the media can take away," Brewer said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Delaware. The original article was written by Andrea Boyle Tippett. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. R. Brewer. The Trappings of Science: Media Messages, Scientific Authority, and Beliefs About Paranormal Investigators. Science Communication, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/1075547012454599

Cite This Page:

University of Delaware. "Ghost busting: Study examines influence of media messages on perceptions of paranormal investigators' credibility." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024141633.htm>.
University of Delaware. (2012, October 24). Ghost busting: Study examines influence of media messages on perceptions of paranormal investigators' credibility. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024141633.htm
University of Delaware. "Ghost busting: Study examines influence of media messages on perceptions of paranormal investigators' credibility." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024141633.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 23, 2014) The WHO has warned up to 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola over the next few weeks. As Sonia Legg reports, the implications for the West African countries suffering from the disease are huge. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: No Nation Gets Pass on Climate Change

Obama: No Nation Gets Pass on Climate Change

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) In a forceful appeal for international cooperation on limiting carbon pollution, President Barack Obama warned world leaders at the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday that the globe's climate is changing faster than efforts to address it. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Overcrowding Has Public Schools Going Vertical

Overcrowding Has Public Schools Going Vertical

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) Pricey real estate and overcrowding have forced urban and suburban school districts to get creative. In Atlanta and outside Washington, that means converting high rise commercial buildings into vertical learning environments. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins