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Hypothesis and Theory ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01728

Measuring Counterintuitiveness in Supernatural Agent Dream Imagery

  • 1Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg,, Sweden
  • 2Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

The present article tests counterintuitiveness theory and methodology in relation to religious dream imagery using data on religious dream content. The endeavor adopts a “fractionated” or “piecemeal” approach where supernatural agent (SA) cognition is held to be a pivotal building block of purportedly religious dreaming. Such supernaturalistic conceptualizations manifests in a cognitive environment of dream simulation processes, threat detection and violation of basic conceptual categorization characterized by counterintuitiveness. By addressing SA cognitions as constituents of allegedly religious dream imagery, additional theorizing and supporting data is presented in a growing body of research in the Cognitive Science of Religion (e.g., Barrett, 2017; Barrett et al., 2009; Hornbeck and Barrett, 2013) and on religious dreaming (McNamara, 2016; McNamara and Bulkeley, 2015). The aim of the article is partly to map and align contemporary theorizing regarding counterintuitiveness and CI schemes with empirical qualification of the prosaic hypothesis about the predominance of supernaturalism in allegedly religious dreaming. This is done by (a) exploring the crucial topic of the pervasiveness of cognitive counterintuitiveness; (b) testing Barrett’s counterintuitiveness coding and quantifying scheme (CI scheme) for counterintuitiveness in the context of religious dreaming by assessing intercoder reliability; and (c) exploring the prevalence and base rate frequency of counterintuitiveness in dream reports. This undertaking aims to contribute to the methodology and understanding of religious dream cognition, as well as to establish the cross-cultural base rates of counterintuitiveness in dreams for future research.

Keywords: supernatural agent cognition,, dream imagery,, counterintuitive processing, , CI scheme,, Religious concepts

Received: 10 Apr 2019; Accepted: 11 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Caroline L. Horton, Bishop Grosseteste University, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Mark Blagrove, Swansea University, United Kingdom
Roumen Kirov, Institute of Neurobiology (BAS), Bulgaria  

Copyright: © 2019 Nordin and Bjalkebring. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Andreas Nordin, Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg,, Gothenburg, Sweden, andreas.nordin@kultvet.gu.se