Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Melissa Latimer.

Committee Co-Chair

Corey Colyer

Committee Member

Ronald Althouse


Previous research on the social predictors of paranormal belief is contradictive and unclear. Depending on which author you read, one theory is better at explaining why individuals accept belief in paranormal phenomena. This problem most likely is the result of weak sample sizes and an inconsistency in defining and measuring the paranormal. This thesis incorporates data from the 2005 Baylor Religion Survey which is one of the largest, most recent data sets assessing paranormal belief. Three predominant theories within the literature are tested. Findings lend support to the marginalization theory claiming that individuals who are marginalized from society tend to hold more paranormal beliefs, both religious and non-religious. Significant support is also given for the small step hypothesis suggesting that the more religious paranormal beliefs an individual holds, the more likely he or she is to hold non-religious paranormal beliefs. Furthermore, support is given to the functional alternative hypothesis proposing that individuals who do not have a religious identity (religious "nones") are more likely to profess belief in the non-religious paranormal.