The present investigation tested the hypothesis that, as an aspect of schizotypal thinking, the formation of paranormal beliefs was related to spreading activation characteristics within semantic networks. From a larger student population (n = 117) prescreened for paranormal belief, 12 strong believers and 12 strong disbelievers (all women) were invited for a lateralized semantic priming task with directly and indirectly related prime-target pairs. Believers showed stronger indirect (but not direct) semantic priming effects than disbelievers after left (but not right) visual field stimulation, indicating faster appreciation of distant semantic relations specifically by the right hemisphere, reportedly specialized in coarse rather than focused semantic processing. These results are discussed in the light of recent findings in schizophrenic patients with thought disorders. They suggest that a disinhibition with semantic networks may underlie the formation of paranormal belief. The potential usefulness of work with healthy subjects for neuropsychiatric research is stressed.

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