Many Americans are open to the existence of supernatural beings and events, including contact with the dead.
By Aaron Earls
For some U.S. adults, many of the terrors connected to Halloween are pure fiction. Others, however, are wary of ghosts, vampires, and visits from dead loved ones.
More than 1 in 3 say they believe psychics (37%), demons (37%), and ghosts (36%) exist, according to YouGov. While a plurality of Americans reject the existence of each, none have a majority who deny them.More than 1 in 3 U.S. adults say they believe psychics (37%), demons (37%), and ghosts (36%) exist, according to YouGov. Click To Tweet
U.S. adults are less likely to embrace real-life werewolves (7%) or vampires (7%). More than 4 in 5 (83%) say neither of those actually exists.
Some groups are more likely to accept the existence of the supernatural beings in question. Women are more likely than men to believe in psychics (46% vs. 28%), ghosts (44% vs. 28%), and demons (41% vs. 32%). Meanwhile, men are more likely to say werewolves (8% vs. 5%) and vampires (11% vs. 4%) exist.
The more household income, the less likely someone is to believe in each supernatural being asked about, except for vampires. Those with $100,000 or more in household income are the most likely to say vampires exist (11%).
Those in the South are the most likely to believe in ghosts (41%) and demons (42%). And those in the Northeast are the most likely to say psychics (42%) and vampires (11%) exist.
Hispanic Americans tend to be more likely to accept the existence of ghosts (48%), demons (45%), and psychics (45%).
Americans 65 and older were consistently the most skeptical of every type of supernatural being, except for psychics. They (41%), along with those 45-64 (43%), are most likely to say psychics are real.
Visits from the dead
Most American adults (53%) say at some point in their lives they have felt a family member who is dead visited them in a dream (46%) or some other form (31%), according to Pew Research.Most U.S. adults (53%) say at some point in their lives they have felt a dead family member visited them in a dream (46%) or some other form (31%), according to Pew Research. Click To Tweet
Specifically in the past 12 months, 34% have felt the presence of a dead family member, 28% have told dead family members about events in their life, and 15% had dead family members communicate with them.
In general, women are more likely than men to claim such experiences. Additionally, Hispanic and Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to claim the same.
Around 2 in 3 historically Black Protestants (67%) and Catholics (66%) say they’ve felt a family member who is dead come to visit them in some way. Most mainline Protestants (58%) and those who have no religion in particular (58%) also say they’ve had such experiences. Fewer evangelicals (42%), agnostics (34%), or atheists (26%) make such claims.
Despite being smaller than any other religious group, it is worth noting that 1 in 4 atheists say they have had contact with someone beyond this physical existence.
Similar patterns emerge when asking about recent contact with a deceased relative. Catholics (58%), historically Black Protestants (56%), mainline Protestants (52%), and those who are nothing in particular (48%) are more likely than evangelicals (35%), agnostics (25%), and atheists (15%) to say they’ve had some form of communication or contact with a dead loved one in the past 12 months.1 in 4 atheists say they have had contact with a dead family member, according to Pew Research. Click To Tweet
Religious commitment also plays a role in the likelihood someone claims to have experiences with the dead, but not in a straight line. Those with medium levels of commitment are more likely than those with higher or lower levels to say they’ve made such contact.
“People who are moderately religious seem to be more likely than other Americans to have these experiences,” the Pew Research report says. “This is partly because some of the most traditionally religious groups—such as evangelical Protestants—as well as some of the least religious parts of the population—such as atheists and agnostics—are less likely to report having interactions with deceased family members.”
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Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.