When people across the US were asked about their paranormal beliefs — ranging from topics like Bigfoot and psychic powers to haunted houses and the power of dreams — researchers discovered a few surprising trends.

fortune - tarot card deck

A haunted world: Paranormal beliefs survey

Data from the The Chapman University 2015 Survey of American Fears showed more than 40 percent of Americans believe that places can be haunted by spirits — and more than a fourth believe that the living and the dead can communicate with each other.

In addition, twenty percent of Americans believe both that aliens visited Earth in the ancient past, and that dreams can foretell the future.

“Overall, the survey showed that half of Americans believe in something paranormal,” said Dr Bader. “But that also means half of Americans do not believe in anything paranormal.”

Supernatural realm

The survey also shed light on certain characteristics of people who believe in the paranormal.

Research showed that people with the highest levels of paranormal beliefs had the following traits:
  1. Low levels of church attendance
  2. Non-white
  3. Catholic
  4. No college degree
  5. Female
  6. Unmarried
  7. Living in the Northeast
Paranormal beliefs by the numbers


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About: The survey sample was a random sample of 1,541 Americans who are English speaking and over the age of 18. The survey was administered by GFK (Knowledge Networks) a consumer research company with expertise in probability samples. Data were collected between May 16, 2015, and May 25, 2015. The survey took, on average, 20 to 25 minutes to complete. The sample of the Chapman University Survey of American Fears mirrors the demographic characteristics of the US Census. A comprehensive list of the all the fears from The Chapman Survey on American Fears can be found at chapman.edu/fearsurvey. In addition to Bader, Day and Gordon, student involvement was key in helping throughout the process.

Photo credit(s): Tarot card photo thanks to miradeshazer / Graphic courtesy of Chapman University

Original publication date: October 14, 2015

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