[French validation of the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale].Encephale 2014; 40(4):308-14E
For the last decades, many researchers have focused on paranormal beliefs. Beliefs in the existence of paranormal phenomena would be common and studies conducted in westernized countries have highlighted a high prevalence of individuals believing in the existence of such phenomena. Tobacyk and Milford (1984) developed the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale (RPBS) for assessing beliefs in paranormal phenomena. This 26-item self-reported questionnaire, measuring beliefs in phenomena such as witchcraft or superstition, is one of the most widely used questionnaires to assess such beliefs. While studies focusing on paranormal beliefs tend to develop, there is no French self-report instrument to assess this construct. Researchers have tried to identify specific variables that might be linked to such beliefs, and some have focused on personalities of individuals who believe in the paranormal. Schizotypy has been reported to be significantly and positively correlated with paranormal beliefs.
The aim of this study was a) to validate the French version of the RPBS and b) to explore the relationship between Schizotypal Personality Disorder traits and paranormal beliefs.
After being recruited using the Internet and social networks (e.g. facebook), a sample of 313 participants (mean [SD] age=31.12 [11.62]; range 18-58years) completed the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ-B), assessing Schizotypal Personality Disorder traits and the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale assessing paranormal beliefs.
Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to test the proposed 7-factor structure of the RPB developed by Tobacyk. Several adjustment indices were used to evaluate the model. As the first model did not fit the original one, others models were tested. Our findings indicated that a seven-factor solution, excluding 2 items, best described the item structure: (1) spiritualism, (2) superstition, (3) witchcraft, (4) precognition, (5) traditional religious belief, (6) psi, (7) and extraordinary life forms. Relationships between paranormal beliefs and Schizotypal Personality Disorder traits were also explored. Correlations between some subscales of the SPQ-B and some dimensions of the RPBS were found. The "cognition-perception" subscale was strongly correlated with the "witchcraft", "spirituality", "precognition" and "psi" subscales. Nevertheless, this subscale was lightly correlated with the "traditional religious belief" and "extraordinary life forms" dimensions. No correlation was found between the others dimensions of schizotypy as "disorganized" and "interpersonal" and dimensions of paranormal beliefs.
The initial model developed by Tobacyk and Milford did not fit the data from the French population. The low internal consistencies regarding both superstition and extraordinary life forms dimensions highlighted some cultural differences that have to be acknowledged. This result emphasizes that beliefs in some extraordinary life forms as Loch Ness monster are not an important dimension to take into account in a French population. Our findings also indicate that the RPBS is a valid and reliable instrument for assessing paranormal beliefs in a French population. Our findings also highlight that such beliefs are associated with Schizotypal Personality Disorder traits. Developing research on the association between Schizotypal Personality Disorder traits and such beliefs appears of prime importance. Future studies focusing on features associated with paranormal beliefs are also warranted.