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relations to asymmetry of body and brain

Abstract

The goal of this study was to investigate the possible relationship between established measures of body and brain asymmetries and individual differences in paranormal beliefs. In addition to behavioural measures of cerebral laterality, measures of facial features and finger length were taken to calculate body asymmetry scores and indicators of fluctuating asymmetry (average absolute differences between left and right body features). Both the direction and degree of laterality measures were used. In addition to that, quantitative measures of inconsistency of cerebral lateralization were obtained. Results indicated that a stronger belief in paranormal phenomena was associated with fluctuating asymmetry of finger length, and that this aspect of body asymmetry may be related to greater intraindividual variability in the degree of ‘atypical’ functional lateralization. This intraindividual variability index, in turn, significantly predicted strength of belief in the paranormal. Belief in the paranormal was also higher in women than men and it was negatively correlated with the education level. In sum, these findings suggest that a part of the variance of strength of belief in paranormal phenomena can be explained by patterns of functional hemispheric asymmetry that may be related to perturbations during fetal development.