Miyerkules, Oktubre 24, 2012



A Research Paper Presented to 
Sir Dustin Celestino 
Asia Pacific College 
Magallanes, Makati City 

In Partial Fulfillment 
of the Requirements for the Course 
RESWRIT – Research Writing 

Alpha Mae T. Pedralvez
October 2012

Chapter 1

A.   Background of the Study

There are people who desire to reveal everything that are hidden. Some are discontented for chasing and knowing the secrets of life. One of things a person enjoys to reveal is fortune or destiny which will never be shown until the right time. What make life interesting and exciting are the mysteries of fortune or destiny. People look for tendencies to reveal the secrets of life and this is the start of the art of practicing to predict one’s future. The answer to the curiosity of some people is fortune telling.

One of the most difficult areas within psychology to study is paranormal belief. A huge part of this difficulty lies in its lack of standard definition. “A paranormal belief is defined on a working basis as a proposition that has not been empirically attested to the satisfaction of the scientific establishment but is generated within the nonscientific community and extensively endorsed by people who might normally be expected by their society to be capable of rational thought and reality testing.” (Irwin,2009).  The understanding of paranormal belief is still unclear as a single definition of paranormal belief has yet to be widely accepted by the psychological community.

According to existing literature, fortune telling is considered to include a number of different paranormal items that can, supposedly, allow a fortune teller special knowledge about the future; such items include psychic ability, extra sensory perception (ESP) and many different divinatory arts (e.g. cartomancy, astrology, palmistry, crystallomancy etc.) (Irwin, 2009). This has led to a simple understanding of fortune telling where, according to parapsychological research, belief in fortune telling is constituted as belief that abilities to read or foretell the future are real or genuine.

According to Ed Beckham Ph.D. on anxiety, “fortune telling is a type of worrying in which person’s project negative outcomes into the future. They worry about what might happen as if it were a foregone conclusion or as if it had already happened. As a result, these types of thought causes people to feel anxious and upset about something that has not happened and may never happen.”

Many people affirm their fortune tellers while others regard it as a pseudoscience. However, it is extremely popular across all cultures and religions. History is complete with unreliable cases proving the truth of such readings. There are various reasons attributed to their accuracy are: Ambiguity is a key characteristic of predictions. If one goes wrong, the blame lies with the interpretation and not with the prediction. The need for confirmation forces people to look for instances when the predictions have borne fruit. Predictions result in lowering of fear and anxiety of the unknown. Predictions are an amusing diversion from the daily hustle activities of life. Guesswork on the part of the teller, based on incomplete shards of information helps in soothing one’s deepest fears so that a heavy burden is lifted. A person returns from a reading in a relaxed state of mind.

The known reasons for their accuracy are:  The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people. (The Skeptic’s Dictionary) Cold reading is the ability to gain information about someone without that person realizing that they are actually giving up the information themselves. This is achieved using a series of tricks and psychological manipulations to coax information out of the interviewee, and then to pass it off as being generated by psychic powers or other means. (RationalWiki) And a self-fulfilling prophecy in which a person may modify his future course of action keeping his prediction in mind. It may come true as a result of his altered actions. When an individual divines for himself, it is a way of organizing his own chain of thought.

According to Alexander Caillet’s the Thinking Path, it holds that thoughts (including assumptions and beliefs) produce feelings, which produce behaviors, which produce results. Emotions are connected with behavior but not all people behave similarly with the same emotion. Handling emotions and how one can behave towards it has a crucial effect on success and better decision making.

Overall mind state and behavior has a certain nature founded mainly on the types of ideas or thoughts a person thinks. Looking into the thoughts of depressed person, there would be one saddening thought following another. When a person looks at the past, there is regret, at the present, something is most often disappointing and in the future there is anxiety or pessimism.
It has its benefits which include lessening of anxiety levels. A major flip side to this coin is that it may stimulate acute depression if the predictions are unexpected and untruthful. A person with a strong belief and who works with principles can avoid being absorbed into the nasty circle of fortune telling.

This study does not deal with the issue on accuracy of fortune telling, this paper focuses on its effect on human mind and behavior.

B.   Statement of the Problem
This study aims to answer this question:
1.    What are the psychological effects of fortune telling to people?

C.   Significance of the Study
Fortune telling enthusiasts. This research paper would be able to help fortune telling enthusiasts in learning more about the unconscious effects to human mind and behavior of fortune telling as a primary  distortion that sparks anxiety or the reverse which include reduction of anxiety levels and on how deal with the happiness or anxiety brought by predictions.
College Students taking up the course BS in Psychology. This research paper would be beneficial to college students taking up the course BS in Psychology because it is in line with their specialization. Through this research, they will acquire practical knowledge and can serve as a reference or guide in understanding rational situations.
Future researchers. The research would be able to provide future researchers essential information and ideas which can serve as their guide for development of the paper. This would allow them to furnish additional data that would be valuable for the study.

D.   Scope and Delimitation
This study focuses on the psychological effects of fortune telling to people. Psychological effects and psychology are being ruminated because it primarily analyzes who and what we are, why we are like that, why we act and think like that and how we can improve ourselves.
This study briefly discusses some of the methods of fortune telling such as cartomancy, astrology, palmistry and crystallomancy to consider people’s view on fortune telling. This gives emphasis on three themes to classify fortune telling namely: fortune telling as business, fortune telling as fraud and fortune telling as counseling.
The study does not include the mystical effects of fortune telling. It does not count the concept of whether or not the paranormal phenomenon currently attributed to it is actually real or fake.

E.    Materials and Methods
This paper utilizes a descriptive method since the researcher aims to provide the psychological effects of fortune telling. This method is defined as a process involving the collection of data in order to test hypothesis or to answer questions concerning the current status of the subject of the study (Gay 1976).

Discourse analysis method will also be employed and it is defined as a qualitative method that has been adopted and developed by social constructionists. According to Dr. Eamon Fulcher it is based on some basic assumptions: Psychologists cannot be objective when studying human behavior. In the scientific approach there is the belief that knowledge can be gained by objectivity, reality is socially constructed and people are the products of social interaction. The concept is discussed in early discursive psychology by Potter and Wetherill (1987), “compare different people’s attitudes to the same object” (p. 50). However, Potter and Wetherill point out that “sameness of wording does not necessarily mean that respondents will understand the terms or formulate the object of thought in an identical way” (p.52).

Different respondents may have different perceptions and understandings of the object being discussed. There is no assurance that each respondent will react to the object in the same way. To combat this problem, the researcher needs a better understanding of how people constitute, or construct and behave and think about, the objects that they profess belief in.

This paper gathered relevant information from various reference materials such as refereed articles, books, publications in press, blogs and other online resources, surveys and interviews.

F.    Definition of Terms
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure.

Fortune telling is the practice of predicting the future, usually of an individual, through seemingly mystical or supernatural means.

Psychology is the scientific study of human and animal behavior with the object of understanding why living beings behave as they do.

Psychic ability is term as the “sixth sense”, It is a sense outside of our five physical senses - sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Others may refer to this sense as a “metaphysical” ability.

Extrasensory perception (ESP) involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense but sensed with the mind.

Cartomancy is fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards.

Astrology is fortune telling by using the movement of celestial bodies.

Palmistry or chiromancy is the art of characterization and foretelling the future through the study of the palm, also known as palm reading, or chirology.

Crystallomancy is a form of divination or scrying achieved through trance induction by means of gazing at a crystal globe, a pool of water, a mirror, or any transparent object.

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