Science & Education

, Volume 20, Issue 5–6, pp 517–534 | Cite as

The Relationships Between Paranormal Belief, Creationism, Intelligent Design and Evolution at Secondary Schools in Vienna (Austria)

  • Erich EderEmail author
  • Katharina Turic
  • Norbert Milasowszky
  • Katherine Van Adzin
  • Andreas Hergovich


The present study is the first to investigate the relationships between a multiple set of paranormal beliefs and the acceptance of evolution, creationism, and intelligent design, respectively, in Europe. Using a questionnaire, 2,129 students at secondary schools in Vienna (Austria) answered the 26 statements of the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale (R-PBS) and three statements about naturalistic evolution, creationism and intelligent design (ID). The investigated Austrian students showed an average R-PBS score of 82.08, more than 50% of them agreed with naturalistic evolution, 28% with creationism, and more than a third agreed with ID, the latter two closely correlated with each other. Females generally showed higher belief scores in the paranormal, creationism and ID. The agreement with naturalistic evolution correlated negatively with religious belief, but not with other paranormal beliefs, whereas the two non-scientific alternatives to evolution significantly correlated with both traditional and paranormal beliefs. Religious belief showed a significant positive correlation with other paranormal beliefs. All subscales of paranormal belief decreased during the eight grades of secondary school, as did acceptance of creationism and ID. However, the acceptance of naturalistic evolution did not correlate with age or grade. Possible reasons and implications for science education and the biology curriculum at Austrian secondary schools are discussed.


Science Education Naturalistic Evolution Secondary School Student Intelligent Design Austrian Curriculum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We gratefully acknowledge the permission to perform this study in the classrooms by the Vienna Board of Education (Stadtschulrat für Wien) and the directors of the participating schools, Karl Heinz Hochschorner, Klemens Kerbler, Hubert Kopeszki, Georg Latzke, Günter Maresch, Inge Pollak, Hans-Leopold Rudolf, Albert Schmalz, Margaret Witek, and Elfriede Wotke. The teachers Heidemarie Amon, Ursula Fraunschiel, Bettina Girschick, Simon Götsch, Doris Kruder, Kathrin Schandl, Peter Schandl, Christine Strondl, Johann Turic, and the biology students Lisa C. Auleitner, Stefanie Bruns, Tobias Schernhammer, Iris Starnberger, Klaus Tscherner, and Michaela Urbauer collected answers in the classrooms and on the street, respectively. We appreciate the useful hints by Martin Scheuch (University of Vienna, AECC Biology) on questionnaire design. Not less than seven reviewers made critical but very constructive comments on the manuscript. Finally, we express our gratitude to all participants of this study, especially to those who cheered up data entry with attached comments like “There is a devil.—Yes: it is teacher S.” or “The Loch Ness monster exists.—Yes: it is teacher K.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erich Eder
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katharina Turic
    • 2
  • Norbert Milasowszky
    • 1
  • Katherine Van Adzin
    • 3
  • Andreas Hergovich
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.GRG 12ViennaAustria
  3. 3.Wellesley CollegeWellesleyUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychological Basic ResearchUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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