The potentially adaptive features of peculiar beliefs

M. Tyler Boden, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored how individuals perceive their peculiar beliefs and how various features of peculiar beliefs are associated with psychological distress. Seventy-five women, all of whom held at least one peculiar belief (e.g., ESP, aliens, miracles), were interviewed to assess various features of their peculiar beliefs. Participants also completed the Beck Depression Inventory to assess psychological distress, and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale to assess clarity of and attention to emotions. The results indicated that: (a) individuals typically considered their peculiar beliefs to be important, to have a positive impact on their lives, and to clarify their understanding of themselves and their world; (b) the latter two features of peculiar beliefs were associated with psychological distress; and (c) individual differences in emotional processing (i.e., clarity of and attention to emotions) moderated the relation between all three of these aspects of beliefs and psychological distress. These results are consistent with previous research examining the association between anomalous experiences and well being and suggest that certain aspects of peculiar beliefs are perceived as beneficial for some people in some contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-719
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Attention to emotions
  • Beliefs
  • Clarity of emotions
  • Distress
  • Peculiarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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