Ghosts, UFOs, and magic: positive affect and the experiential system. Academic Article uri icon


  • Three studies examined the potential interactions of the experiential system and positive affect (PA) in predicting superstitious beliefs and sympathetic magic. In Study 1, experientiality and induced positive mood interacted to predict the emergence of belief in videos purporting to show unidentified flying objects or ghosts. In Study 2, naturally occurring PA interacted with experientiality to predict susceptibility to sympathetic magic, specifically difficulty in throwing darts at a picture of a baby (demonstrating the law of similarity). In Study 3, induced mood interacted with experientiality to predict sitting farther away from, and expressing less liking for, a partner who had stepped in excrement (demonstrating the law of contagion). Results are interpreted as indicating that PA promotes experiential processing. Implications for the psychology of nonrational beliefs and behaviors are discussed.

published proceedings

  • J Pers Soc Psychol

altmetric score

  • 41.05

author list (cited authors)

  • King, L. A., Burton, C. M., Hicks, J. A., & Drigotas, S. M.

citation count

  • 67

complete list of authors

  • King, Laura A||Burton, Chad M||Hicks, Joshua A||Drigotas, Stephen M

publication date

  • May 2007