UD professor's paranormal study finds TV influences belief in ghosts

By Amy Cherry 12:08pm, October 31, 2012 - Updated 2:29pm, October 31, 2012
Do you believe in ghosts? If so, you're not the only one.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

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A new study by a University of Delaware communications professor shows up to 40-percent of people believe based on what they see on TV shows like Ghost Hunters.

Paul Brewer says people got two scenarios--one about a man who heard bumps and noises in his house -- that didn't make them believe in ghosts.

"But when people got a story where the investigators used rigorous scientific methods all these technological devices like EMS detectors, in other words using the trappings, the lingo, the jargon of science, then the audience members were more likely to think that the was credible and to say that they believe in ghosts and haunted houses," says Brewer.

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Brewer says dressing up paranormal investigations as scientific, makes people more likely to believe in ghosts though movies like "Paranormal Activity," and its many sequels do not.

"Maybe, some people believed in the 'Blair Witch' after they watched that movie, but I think most of the people that go into 'Paranormal Activity' think, 'Oh this is just made up to entertain me,'" says Brewer.

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The full study is available for purchase in the online journal, "Science Communication."

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