A new Paranormality survey has revealed that 25% of British adults - over 11 million people - claim to have experienced a ghost. This is the highest figure on record, with previous surveys showing that in the 1950s just 7% of the population reported having seen a ghost. In the late 1990s ghostly experiences had risen to 14%, and in 2003 the figure stood at 19%.
There was also considerable variation across the nation, with the largest number of ghostly experiences being reported in Yorkshire and Humberside, and the East Midlands, while London and the South-East were the most skeptical (see ‘National Ghost Map’).
This rise in people attributing creaking doors and cold chills to ghosts could be due to several factors. There has been an increase in ghost hunting shows on television, and a decline in more traditional religious beliefs.
The survey also revealed big differences between the sexes, with 31% of women, and just 18% of men, claiming to have experienced a ghost.
This relationship has also emerged in nearly all of the previous surveys, and might be due to more women than men finding it socially acceptable to admit to seeing a ghost.
The exact figures are as follows (percentage of people in each region claiming to have experienced a ghost):
South East 21
North East 22
South West 23
East of England 25
North West 26
West Midlands 26
Yorkshire and the Humber 30
East Midlands 30
The survey. Total sample size for YouGov survey was 2040 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 3rd February 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Respondents were asked ‘Do you believe that you have experienced a ghost?’, and presented with five response options (Definitely Yes, Probably Yes, Uncertain, Probably No, Definitely No). The percentage of people choosing the first two options were summed to create the figures reported in this release.
The total number of people having ghostly experiences was based on mid-2009 population figures published by the Office for National Statistics, and represents a quarter of the adult population in Great Britain (46 million).
Previous surveys: The 1950s are taken from a survey carried out by Geoffrey Gorer, and involve a sel-selecting sample of 5000 people from England, aged 16+. The 1998 figures are from a MORI survey involving a representative sample of 721 GB adults aged 18+. The 2003 figures are from a Ipsos MORI survey involving a representative sample of 1001 GB adults aged 18+.