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When spirits speak : absorption, attribution, and identity among spiritualists who report ‘clairaudient’ voice experiences.

Powell, Adam J. and Moseley, Peter (2020) 'When spirits speak : absorption, attribution, and identity among spiritualists who report ‘clairaudient’ voice experiences.', Mental health, religion, and culture., 23 (10). pp. 841-856.


For mental health researchers and others committed to a bio-cultural understanding of religious experience, there is a need for empirical studies capable of shedding light on the interplay between beliefs, personalities, and the occurrence of anomalous sensory experiences. Absorption, a trait linked to one’s tendency to become immersed in experience or thought, may be key for understanding that relationship. Spiritualist mediums (N = 65) completed an online questionnaire assessing the timing, nature, and frequency of their auditory (clairaudient) spiritual communications – including scales measuring paranormal beliefs, absorption, hallucination-proneness, and aspects of identity. These measures were compared to a general population group (N = 143), with results showing higher levels of auditory hallucination-proneness and absorption among the Spiritualists as well as correlations between spiritual beliefs and absorption, but not spiritual beliefs and hallucination-proneness, for the general population. Findings are discussed in relation to attribution models of religious experience and the complexity of “absorption” as a construct.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:05 July 2020
Date deposited:08 July 2020
Date of first online publication:18 January 2021
Date first made open access:26 March 2021

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