The truth is out there: the structure of beliefs about extraterrestrial life among Austrian and British respondents

Viren Swami, Adrian Furnham, Tanja Haubner, Stefan Stieger, Martin Voracek

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous investigators of extraterrestrial beliefs have relied on single-item scales, which limit the researchers' understanding of such beliefs. The present authors report responses to a 37-item scale about extraterrestrial beliefs from 320 participants in Austria and 257 participants in Britain. A factor analysis revealed 3 primary factors that were stable across sites: (a) belief that extraterrestrial life has visited Earth and that governmental agencies have knowledge of this fact, (b) scientific search for extraterrestrial life, and (c) general beliefs about the existence of extraterrestrial life. Participants rated only Factor 3 positively, suggesting that there is a distinction between paranormal-related beliefs and science-related beliefs. The authors found only political orientation and religiosity to be significantly correlated with factor scores. They discuss their results in relation to previous reports of extraterrestrial beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Volume149
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Austria/epidemiology
  • Culture
  • Extraterrestrial Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Truth Disclosure
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology

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