Asymmetry in Belief Formation and Change: the Role of Intuitive Cognition and Inhibition

Samara-Colvin, Duncan Bruce. 2019. Asymmetry in Belief Formation and Change: the Role of Intuitive Cognition and Inhibition. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Understanding how beliefs form and change is important because people act upon their beliefs in the world around them, which has implications for everyone. The present research programme therefore aimed to explore mechanisms in the belief process. This was approached from the dual-process perspective that there are two kinds of thinking: intuitive and rational. It was predicted that belief formation and change would be path-dependent, with rational disconfirmation influencing rationally-based beliefs more and intuitive disconfirmation influencing intuitively-based beliefs more. The research programme used a mixture of lab-based studies and naturalistic intervention studies, drawing upon a range of population samples. Belief in Extrasensory Perception (ESP) was the focus for belief change, due to its association with intuitive belief-basis and broad distribution within the general population. The proposed model of path-dependent belief change was not supported, however. Ultimately, it was found that beliefs vary in being held for rational or intuitive reasons, and that this difference emerges at the belief formation stage due to the nature of the material encountered and the person’s cognitive processing style. However, neither the nature of the material nor the person’s cognitive processing style influences belief change. Therefore, while the findings did not support the specific model being tested, they did successfully demonstrate a connection between belief formation and change. It is argued that the observed asymmetry is only explainable by a difference in encoding at belief formation and that fully understanding belief therefore requires future research to solve this encoding problem.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Dual-process, intuitive, rational, inhibition, belief, paranormal, belief change, belief formation, Cognitive Reflection Test, CRT, Extra Sensory Perception, ESP.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit (APRU)


31 October 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

28 Nov 2019 14:49

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 02:52


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