Up, Up, and Away: Individual Differences in Imaginative Involvement and Magical Beliefs Relate to Perceiving and Desiring Supernatural Powers

Russell J. Webster, Donald A. Saucier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human beings have relished the idea of possessing supernatural/superhuman powers for millennia. However, do some people desire such powers more than others based on specific individual differences and characteristics? We examined how individual differences in imaginative involvement (fantasy proneness, absorption) and magical beliefs (superstitiousness and religiousness) uniquely related to desire for 12 supernatural powers (final N = 143); participants also rated the supernaturalness of each power and how much they believed humans possess/will possess each power. These individual differences, as predicted, consistently correlated with the desire for supernatural powers and the belief that humans may possess these powers in the future. After controlling for sci-fi and fantasy narrative consumption, only absorption and superstitiousness (chance subscale) uniquely related to desire for supernatural powers; and only absorption uniquely predicted the belief that humans do/would possess these powers. Ultimately, there are important individual differences in desire and perception of supernatural powers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-149
Number of pages21
JournalImagination, Cognition and Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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