The Chapman University Survey of American Fears Wave 5 (2018) includes a battery of items on paranormal beliefs ranging from belief in aliens and psychic powers to Bigfoot and haunted houses.
Currently the most common paranormal belief in the United States is that places can be haunted by spirits (57.7%), followed closely by the belief that ancient, advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis once existed (56.9%). More than two out of five Americans (41.4%) believe that that aliens visited Earth in our ancient past and more than a third believe aliens are visiting now (35.1%). Of the items we asked about, Americans are the most skeptical about fortune tellers, with only approximately 17.2% believing that others can see the future.
|Paranormal Beliefs (2018)||Percent Agree or Strongly Agree|
|1. Places can be haunted by spirits||57.7%|
|2. Ancient, advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis, once existed||56.9%|
|3. Aliens have visited Earth in our ancient past||41.4%|
|4. Aliens have come to Earth in modern times||35.1%|
|5. Some people can move objects with their minds||26.2%|
|6. Bigfoot is a real creature||20.7%|
|7. Fortune tellers and psychics can foresee the future||17.2%|
The Prevalence of Paranormal Beliefs
Paranormal beliefs have become the norm in the United States, if we examine how many such beliefs a person holds. Using the seven paranormal items included on the Chapman University Survey of American Fears Wave 5 (2018), we find that only about a fourth of Americans (24.1%) do not hold any of the seven beliefs. What this means is that more than ¾ of Americans believe in at least one paranormal phenomenon.
Many Americans believe in many paranormal phenomena, as listed below:
|Number of Paranormal Beliefs (2018)||Percent|
|No paranormal beliefs||24.1%|
|1 paranormal belief||15.2%|
|2 paranormal beliefs||14.7%|
|3 paranormal beliefs||12.0%|
|4 paranormal beliefs||12.4%|
|5 paranormal beliefs||9.2%|
|6 paranormal beliefs||7.5%|
|All 7 paranormal beliefs||4.8%|
All Paranormal Beliefs are On the Rise
The Chapman University Survey of American Fears has included the same set of questions about paranormal beliefs on three waves of the survey. What is striking is how rapidly such beliefs are rising.
Belief in six of the seven paranormal items increased between 2017 and 2018, the only exception being the belief that fortune tellers and psychics can foresee the future. All seven items have risen in levels of belief since 2016. For example, Americans are fourteen percent more likely to believe that aliens once visited the earth than they were in 2016. Americans have become seven percent more likely to believe in Bigfoot in only two years.
Given that our survey includes a margin for error of +/- 3%, we should note that some of these changes maybe be slightly bigger or smaller than presented. However, the major pattern is clear – American is becoming more paranormal.
|Paranormal Beliefs (2016-2018)||2016||2017||2018||Change 2016-2018|
|Ancient, advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis, once existed||39.6||55.0||56.9%||17.3%|
|Aliens have visited Earth in our ancient past||27.0||35.0||41.4%||14.4%|
|Places can be haunted by spirits||46.6||52.3||57.7%||11.1%|
|Aliens have come to Earth in modern times||24.7||26.2||35.1%||10.4%|
|Bigfoot is a real creature||13.5||16.2||20.7%||7.2%|
|Some people can move objects with their minds||19.1||25.0||26.2%||7.1%|
|Fortune tellers and psychics can foresee the future||14.1||19.4||17.2%||3.1%|
For more information and articles, visit www.chapman.edu/fearsurvey.