Can ghosts affect your relationship?
The term “ghost” has many definitions. It can be a supernatural being or an apparition, and it can also refer to an object or entity that appears without any physical substance. Any person, no matter how skeptical they might be, has experienced something unexplainable in their life and probably believes in the existence of ghosts.
When people hear someone is haunted by ghosts, they assume that there is nothing to worry about as long as the spirits are benevolent (although some say this is not always true). Unfortunately these belief systems may not reflect reality and could pose serious problems for those living in a house plagued with paranormal activity. One of the most frequently reported paranormal activities at a haunted house is the fear of haunting. Many people report feeling scared to death by a ghostly presence or by contact with an entity, whether seen or unseen. Some even feel that they are being watched by a ghost in the neighborhood.
This fear of being haunted can affect relationships both with family members and strangers. It could cause people to become overly sensitive to other people’s feelings and desires – which is a bad idea when you have so many other concerns to deal with in life already. The cause of ghostly activities is the unknown. The unknown is usually not a thing to be feared. However, if you live in a place that is known to be haunted, then you might fear having a ghost haunt you.
One study confirmed that living in an environment haunted by ghosts can influence the lives of its inhabitants significantly. Although most of the participants lived in houses that were reported to be haunted, most had come to believe they were living in a house infested with ghosts or spirits. They felt like they had lost their will to live and were experiencing serious depression; however, this was not the case for all people who lived in haunted houses at the time of this research project. Every person has a different perception of ghostly phenomenon. For some, ghosts are evil interlopers that are out to scare them. The “fear factor” in a haunted house is perceived differently by everyone. The residents of the house where this study was conducted also responded differently to their own feelings of fear and hopelessness as they were living in an environment influenced by paranormal activity.
Research Design and Methods
The study, conducted by the University of Oregon, took place in a haunted house in Eugene, Oregon. The researchers wanted to find out whether fear and paranormal activity would affect relationships between people living in a haunted house. They recruited forty people who lived or had previously lived in the haunted house for at least three years. Half of the participants were females and half were males. Each participant was assigned a number as their code name to ensure confidentiality during the research project. Ages at the time of study ranged from 18 years old to 80 years old; with an average age of 34.5 years of age for female participants and 40.9 for male participants. The participants had to complete an online questionnaire and a “Fear of the Unknown” scale. This scale was created based on previous research, and it is used to measure human sensitivity to fear. The scale consists of 43 items rated on a Likert Scale where true response choices are 0 (not at all fearful) and 7 (extremely fearful). The participants were asked to rate how they feel about each statement from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).
The items on the Fear of the Unknown scale form four factors or components: paranormal dread, mystical dread, superstition dread, and fear of God. Each factor contains nine questions that are similar but not exactly the same. Some of the statements on the scale are about fears of ghosts and some are about fears of monsters and other monsters. The factor with questions related to ghosts is labeled “ghosts” here, but this could also be “ghosts and spirits” or “paranormal phenomena.” The factors labeled “mystical dread” have questions that deal with fears of demons, vampires, the devil, and black magic. The factor labeled “superstition dread” has a smattering of beliefs related to witchcraft, charms, vampires (or werewolves), evil spirits, UFOs (also known as unidentified flying objects), psychics, paranormal activity at haunted houses in particular, and aliens. The factor labeled “fear of God” has questions on the possibility of a devil or Satan, imaginary friends, and the concept of hell.
The researchers had their participants complete a questionnaire regarding their fear and their relationship with each factor. The questionnaire was created from past research by different experts. The survey included questions about how they felt about haunted houses, their emotions at the time, and what they thought might have influenced them to think those way. This information was all used to create an equation for each participant’s personality type.
The researchers had each participant answer a series of 43 questions that are designed to measure how fearful they are of paranormal phenomena. The participants were asked to give the number between 0 and 7 that best reflected their level of agreement with the statement, depending on their personal perception and experiences associated with a haunted house. The participants also answered questions about how much paranormal activity frightened them or made them feel sick, as well as whether or not they were haunted by something that was followed by feelings of intense fear.
To determine the impact of personality types on relationships between people living in a haunting, the researchers also conducted interviews with at least two people who knew each participant well enough to comment on his or her social interactions over an extended period of time. They wanted to find out whether people who lived in a haunted house felt like they were less able to connect with others. They also wanted to find out whether the feelings of fear influenced the way that the residents of haunted houses relate with one another.
The researchers found that participants reported higher levels of paranormal dread, mystical dread, superstition dread, and fear of God than expected based on past research. However, there was no significant difference between those who lived in a haunted house and those who did not live in a haunted house regarding fear factors. This means that although paranormal activity existed in the study population, it did not affect their social interactions as much as one would expect it to have. The level of fear was not unusual. Also, the researchers did not find out whether or not paranormal activity affected social interactions at all, because they did not measure any of their participants’ social relationships.
The research team started the study with the assumption that being in a haunted house would make people feel isolated and afraid of others when it went on to determine how their relationship with each other changed over time. The results showed that living in a haunted house was correlated with increases in paranormal dread, mystical dread, superstition dread, and fear of God during the study period. The means that these values rose over time rather than just “being there” at the outset of this research project.
The results also showed that the relationship between paranormal dread and mystical dread was not different than expected. This means that if someone is used to living or experiencing things that would create fear such as ghosts, demons, monsters, curses, alien activity, ghosts and spirit activity, things they believe to be true of American culture through history (i.e., the witch trials), religious views of a higher power existing in this world today (i.e., God), and/or beliefs about an afterlife or hell, then other people who live in a haunted house may not be able to connect with them.
The authors mention that it was unclear whether or not paranormal activity as seen by this study affected social interactions between residents of haunted houses. They assumed that it did, because some people living in haunted houses experienced the paranormal as frightening. The study did not find out whether or not this was true. They went on to state that if paranormal activity did affect social interactions in haunted houses, then the participants would have not been able to form meaningful social relationships with one another. That was not what happened.
The authors also failed to find out if it was true that paranormal activity had any influence on how fearful people are of other people, compared to their relationship with their own friends, family members, and coworkers. This assumption could have been proven false, because if the participants were afraid of paranormal activity and social interaction in their haunted houses, then they would have been afraid of other people. In fact, they said there was an inverse relationship between how fearful people were of the paranormal activity in their haunted houses and how much they felt like they had to hide themselves from others. They thought this meant that the more fearful a person was of the paranormal activity associated with a haunted house, the less likely he or she was to want to hide his or her fears from others and instead share them with friends.
This study found that paranormal dread and mystical dread were correlated with other factors of fear. The study also showed that superstition dread was correlated with other factors of fear. However, the researchers did not find out how the relationship between those relationships and the term “fear” affected their social interactions with one another. The authors mentioned that they thought it would be important for future research to look at this type of relationship between many different types of fear factors, as well as a bigger range of childhood fears, including fears about overall safety, ghosts or spirits, and monsters or demons.