For many years, several researchers have conducted research on irrational thinking styles which are called as magical thinking. It is claimed that magical thinking is a primitive version of ontological thinking which is activated at the time of a danger (1,2). In his book “Totem and Taboo”, Freud explained magical thinking from a psychoanalytic perspective for the first time. Freud states that magical thinking reflects peoples’ tendency of exposure to non-critical speculative anomalies, which yields creating individual global systems (3).
Magical thinking is believed to be the transmissivity of common limits between psychological/symbolic and physical/material reality. The term magical thinking can be defined as the semi-serious evaluation of events, which do not include causality in real life but can consist of causality in themselves (4). Some examples of magical thinking can be listed as supernatural beliefs, hearing supernatural voices, astrology, telepathy, and believing in the impacts of the spirits (5).
Magical thinking is considered as not only one of the symptoms of schizotypal personality disorders but also an indicator of inclination to schizophrenia (6). Under the same title of “Schizophrenia”, while listing the characteristics of human beings with schizotypal personality disorders, World Health Organization’s Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders (ICD-10) states that people with a schizotypal personality disorder were prone to magical thinking (7). Magical thinking, appearing in the list of the symptoms of schizotypal personality disorders in DSM-IV, is considered as one of the sub- dimensions of schizotypal personality disorders (3).
People’s some ritualized behaviors directed researchers to investigate magical thinking from an Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) perspective, which also bears obsessive thoughts and actions. Numerous studies tried to explore above mentioned relationship (1,2,8-10). The results of the studies showed that there was a close relationship between OCD and magical thinking. Here, magical thinking is the existence of obsessive behaviors about one’s own and other’s particular fears as well as superstitious beliefs. People with OCD seem to have a high level of paranoia, cognitive illusions, magical thing and thought-action fusion (8).
According to Eckblad and Chapman (6), magical thinking is one’s building causality relationships about the conceptions not accepted by the culture around. Atbasoglu et al. (7) mentioned the importance of the subjective side of the experiences. For them, in order to decide whether someone’s thought is magical or not, it is necessary to know cultural features of that person. Moulding and Kyrios (9) claimed that the source of magical thinking was the contradiction between willingness of controlling the environment and perceived control. They also support the idea that magical thinking could not be separated from culture and environment. Researchers are also investigating the effects of biological factors on beliefs such as whammy, believing that some things bring luck and thinking that there is a transition of energy among objects (10).
In the early periods of life, some rituals of magical thinking provide children with the thought of control in case of fear and anxiety. Early rituals witnessed around 4 years old were reported to be related to danger and uncertainty anxiety in children. Furthermore, it is stated that magical thinking decreases with age. However, it does not fully disappear (2).
In addition to clinical studies, some psychometric studies were conducted with children and university students in order to investigate magical thinking (4,6,7,11). In these studies, researchers utilized some measurement scales developed to evaluate magical thinking. Bolton et al. (12) developed a 30 item “Magical Thinking Questionnaire Scale” in order to investigate magical thinking in adolescents and children. Another commonly used tool is Eckblad and Chapman’s “Magical Ideation Scale”. This scale was adapted to Turkish and validity and reliability of the scale were calculated for university students by Atbasoglu et al. (7). One remarkable finding of the study is that the tendency to magical thinking was higher in males than that of females. The other findings of the study showed that schizotypal features were associated with strength of religiousness, emotional commitment and frequency of religious thoughts in males, while no relation was detected between schizotypal features and religiousness in females.
Co-existence of magical thinking and rational thought in adults is another fact that researchers emphasize. This situation is about the belief that adults can control the events with magical thinking and some other following rituals, when they feel an ambiguity or danger (2). In other words, such kind of belief gives an opportunity to explain and control the ambiguous situations (3).
Although there are numerous magical thinking studies in foreign literature (1,2,5,6), little research was conducted in Turkish context. In one of the studies conducted in Turkey, Yorulmaz et al. (13) investigated magical thinking in OCD. In another study, as mentioned above, Atbasoglu et al. (7) adapted MIS to Turkish with university students. The Turkish version of MIS is the only measurement scale in Turkish literature. There is a need to develop a measurement scale in order to investigate the magical thinking of adolescents in Turkish population.
The main aim of this research is to determine the psychometric features of the MIS in a sample of adults. MIS was developed by Eckblad and Chapman (6) and adapted to Turkish by Atbasoglu et al. (7). Adolescence is known as a period in which complicated and future illations develop. Researchers state that in this period adolescents’ reasoning skills make logical problem solving easier (14). Adolescents use this skill in both problem status and during different discussions. This reasoning helps not to accept every view without questioning is an indicator of development of adolescents’ cognitive skills (15). In addition to cognitive development, adolescence is defined as a process in which people question rules and values in the society, reject everything that is inimical to rules and values (14).
Just like adults, adolescents have magical thinking styles like believing in whammy, believing that some numbers bring good luck and some others bring bad luck. This is why it is necessary to investigate magical thinking styles of adolescents. However, there is not a measurement scale to find magical thinking of adolescents. The only scale available in Turkish is for university students therefore studies on adolescents are limited. The validity and reliability of the former adaptation of the scale in Turkish was conducted with university students. Because of the limitations mentioned above we aimed to evaluate the psychometric properties of MIS in high school students which were studied in university students before. Another aim of this study is to develop a scale for future studies on adolescents.
The participants of the research were a total of 422 volunteer high school students who were studying at general and Anatolian High schools located in the city center of Kocaeli in 2011-2012 academic year. There were 222 (52.6%) female and 200 (47.4%) male students. The average age of the participants was 15.68±0.67. One hundred seventy nine (42.4%) of the participants were General High School students and 243 (52.1%) of them were form Anatolian High Schools. Two hundred two (47.9%) of the participants were 9th grade students and 220 (%52.1) of them were 10th grade students.
A personal information form, which was developed by researchers in order to find out demographic information of the participants, MIS which was adapted to Turkish by Atbasoglu et al. (7), and The Irrational Beliefs Scale-Adolescent form developed by Turkum et al. (16) were used in the study to collect data.
Magical Ideation Scale (MIS): MIS, developed by Eckblad and Chapman (6), is a 30 item scale, which aimed predicting possible psychotic actions of teenagers. All the items in the scale include true false questions. There are 7 reverse-scored (7,12,13, 16,18,23,24) and 23 straight-scored items in the scale. Hence, high scores of the scale indicate high magical thinking and low scores indicate low magical thinking. Atbasoglu et al. (7) adapted this scale into Turkish, and the Cronbach alpha coefficient of the scale was found 0.78.
The Irrational Beliefs Scale-Adolescent Form (lBS-A): The Irrational Beliefs Scale-Adolescent Form (lBS-A) is a 16 item Likert type scale.. Each item is rated on a 5-point scale; “completely untrue of me” (1 point), “mostly untrue of me” (2 points), “undecided” (3 points) “moderately true for me” (4 points), and “describes me perfectly” (5 points). Split-half correlation coefficiency and Cronbach Alpha coefficiency of the scale were calculated as a part of reliability studies. Split-half correlation coefficiency was found as 0.69 and Cronbach Alpha coefficiency was found as 0.70.
Data Collection Procedure
Data was collected only from volunteer participants. The researcher gave information about the aim of the study and the procedure and volunteer students gave written consent. There was not any payment to participants and the data were collected after school hours. The scale was not adapted or translated.
Descriptive statistics of the sample were calculated. As for the MIS Cronbach Alpha Coefficient and item-total correlation coefficients values were calculated via SPSS. In addition, by using LISREL confirmatory factor analysis was conducted in order to find out the psychometric features of the scale for adolescents. The goodness of fit coefficients was calculated with confirmatory factor analysis.
Reliability and Item Analysis
First, Cronbach alpha coefficient was calculated, and it is found as 0.78. Alpha values were calculated for males and females separately. Alpha level for males was found 0.80 and 0.76 for females. In addition to this, item analysis was run and item-total correlation was calculated. Table 1 shows the item-total correlation values of the scale.
In item analysis process, item-total correlation values of the items were calculated. The analysis showed that the item-total correlation values of 6 items (1,12,13,16,23,24) were below 0.20. As for the item analysis 27% upper and lower group means calculation yielded a statistically significant “t value” [(Upper group=17.87; Lower group=5.48), t(226)=38.651; p<0.01].
Confirmatory Factor Analysis
By using LISREL programme, a confirmatory factor analysis was run in order to investigate the original form’s one-dimensional structure. In other words, the Magical Ideation Scale for adolescents. After conducting confirmatory factor analysis, goodness of fit indexes (chi-square/df, GFI, CFI, IFI, NNFI and RMSEA) were tested. The chi-square fit statistics were found statistically significant (χ2=666,702; df=405; χ2/df=1.65). Model fit is considered accepted when the result is ranging less than 5 when chi-square is divided into degree of freedom. If it ranges less than 3, it means that the fit of the model is good (17,18). In addition to this, other model fit indexes are as follows: Root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA)=0.039, Non-normed Fit Index (NNFI)=0.90, Comparative Fit Index (CFI)=0.91, Incremental Fit Index and Goodness of Fit Index (IFI)=0.91. The correlation coefficient of MIS and (IBS-AF) was calculated in order to test the item discrimination of the scale. This analysis yielded a small but statistically significant correlation value (r=0.11, p<0.05).
The analysis of the confirmatory factor analysis showed that there were three items, whose t values were not statistically significant. The items (16,23 and 24) were reverse coded items (see Table 2).
In this study, the psychometric features of MIS about adolescents in high schools were investigated. There was no scale to measure magical thinking of adolescents in Turkish context. In a previous study reliability and validity tests of the MIS were conducted with university students. This study investigated the psychometric features of the study in high school adolescents. For this aim, item analyses were conducted by calculating 27% upper and lower group mean differences and Cronbach alpha internal consistency coefficients. A confirmatory factor analysis was also conducted to examine the original form’s one-dimensional structure of the scale. The discriminant validity of the scale was tested by calculating correlation coefficients of IBS-AF.
The total alpha value of the scale and the alpha value calculated for males and females separately were shown to be similar with the scale’s reliability values of original English version and the adaptation of the scale’s to Turkish university students in reliability analyses of this study (6,7). As a result, it can be concluded that adapted version of MIS for adults and Turkish culture is also a reliable and valid scale for Turkish adolescents. Additionally item-total correlation value of the 6 items was reported to be lower than 0.20 in the Turkish adaptation study. Some other scale development studies in the literature showed that reverse coded item might be under one factor or constitute another factor themselves (19,20). Low correlation values of some items in the scale can be explained by the situation existing in scale development studies. In addition to this, t values of three items (16,23,24) were not statistically significant. In the first study for adaptation to Turkish, it was found that items 16 and 24 worked while item 23 did not work (7). A further analysis of these items shows that these items are reverse coded. However, it can be said that when the contents of the items are investigated, these items were not fully understood by adolescent. As a result, non-significant t values may be the result of reverse coded items.
The Cronbach alpha internal consistency coefficients of the scale in different cultures with different samples were calculated as 0.84 (21), 0.81 (22), 0.87 (23). The reliability coefficients of the scale are close to these values but a little bit lower in the Turkish sample. This may be a result of the features of the sample and culture.
Construct validity of the scale was retested with confirmatory factor analysis. The fit indexes (RMSEA, GFI, CFI, etc.) show that the scale was a valid and reliable one to test magical thinking of adolescents. As a part of confirmatory factor analysis, the value obtained by dividing chi-square to the degree of freedom shows goodness of model fit. If this value is lower than5, it means that the model is acceptable (17,18). A RMSEA value, lower than 0.10, is sufficient for acceptability of the scale (7). The RMSEA value was 0.039 which provide evidence for the goodness of model fit. The values of NNFI, CFI, IFI and GFI fit indexes were over 0.90, which means that the model fit was good (18). The fit indexes of the scale were: NNFI=0.90, CFI=0.91, IFI=0.91 and GFI=0.90. These calculations also indicate that model fit is good. In addition to this, it was found that t values of three items were not statistically significant, and the standardized loadings of these items were lower than the others. This may be due to reverse coded items in the scale (19,20). In the first adapted version of the scale to the Turkish, confirmatory factor analysis was not conducted. This shows the necessity of these kinds of studies and by conducting aconfirmatory factor analysis we aimed to eliminate this limitation.
A statistically significant relationship (r=0.11) between IBS-A (which was used for discriminant validity) and MIS was found. This finding may indicate that magical thinking and irrational beliefs are structurally different from each other. In the literature, the term irrational belief is defined aspreventing, self-destructive emotions and thoughts that considerably prevent individuals’ life or happiness . What is more, irrational beliefs are thought to prevent socialization of the people (24). Magical thinking, on the other hand, includes supernatural beliefs, hearing supernatural voices, telepathy and believing in the impacts of the spirits (5). Therefore, it can be said that these two ways of thinking are different from each other. Additionally, the investigation of the items in the scales showed that items in IBS-A were different from the items in MIS with regard to contextually. The items in the scale include non-realistic social and individual expectations about life. These points indicate that these two constructs are structurally different from each other. The above mentioned issues might be the results of the low correlation value between the scales.
There are numerous studies that emphasize the role of magical thinking on OCD (26-28). In this regard, it can be said that a measurement scale that investigate magical thinking of adolescents is crucial. As a result, it can be considered that this form of the scale might be useful to evaluate OCD in adolescents.
In addition to the strengths of the study, there were some limitations. First, the data was collected from a non-clinical sample. Second, the implementation of the scale on only high school adolescents might be considered as another limitation. Third, future studies may conduct this scale with adolescents, who are not studying in high school. Last, there is a need to investigate cognitive processes lying under magical thinking of both adults and adolescents in order to understand this issue from a developmental perspective. Albeit with these limitations, all of the findings of this study for MIS indicate that the scale is a reliable and valid for adolescents in Turkish sample. However, revising the items after collecting feedback from adolescents might be helpful to reach a more reliable and valid scale for adolescents.