Anomalous experiences and paranormal attributions

psychometric challenges in studying their measurement and relationship

Rense Lange*, Robert M. Ross, Neil Dagnall, Harvey J. Irwin, James Houran, Kenneth Drinkwater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Research on the psychology of paranormal, religious, and delusional belief has been stifled by a lack of careful distinction between anomalous experiences and their corresponding attributions. The Survey of Anomalous Experience (SAE; Irwin, Dagnall, & Drinkwater, 2013) addresses this nuance by measuring proneness to anomalous experience (PAE) and proneness to paranormal attribution (PPA). Using data (351 men, 1,026 women) from 7 previously published studies, we examined the SAE's internal validity via Rasch scaling and differential item functioning analyses. PPA showed good Rasch model fit and no item bias, but it lacked adequate reliability. Several PAE items showed misfit to the Rasch model or gender bias, though deleting 5 items produced a scale with acceptable reliability. Finally, we failed to validate a 3-category rating scale version with the goal of improving the SAE's psychometric properties. All 3 formulations revealed a secondary factor related to the items' extremity rather than contents, suggesting that future research should consider the intensity of respondents' anomalous experiences and paranormal attributions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-358
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Consciousness: Theory Research, and Practice
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019



  • Anomalous experience
  • Attribution theory
  • Paranormal belief
  • Psychometrics
  • Rasch scaling

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