Survey on Beliefs

Ipsos MORI and Ben Schott of 'Schott's Almanac' have teamed up to explore the British public's attitudes towards beliefs.

Ipsos MORI and Ben Schott of 'Schott's Almanac' have teamed up to explore the British public's attitudes towards beliefs.

Women are more superstitious than men, according to Ipsos MORI's poll with Ben Schott exploring faith, beliefs and superstition (carried out by telephone 5-7 October 2007). Women are more than 20 points more likely than men to believe in guardian angels and premonitions (see below chart), and also more likely than men to believe in heaven, fate, souls, god, life after death, ghosts, telepathy, reincarnation, hell and witches and wizards.

Published in The Times on Halloween (31 October), the poll shows that almost two in five people believe in ghosts, with women more likely to believe than men (44% compared to 31%). Almost a third of people believe that governments around the world are concealing evidence of extra-terrestrial beings, and 9% believe that some crop circles are the work of extra terrestrial forces.

While 77% of the British public deny that they are superstitious, half (51%) touch wood to avoid bad luck, two in five (39%) cross their fingers for good luck, 16% have a lucky charm and 15% consider the number '13' to be unlucky. Indeed, three in ten of those who claim not to be superstitious cross their fingers for good luck (30%).

Almost a quarter (23%) read their horoscopes regularly, with women twice as likely as men to do so (31% compared to 14%). Labour voters are more likely to read their horoscope regularly (28%) than Conservative (22%) or Lib Dem voters (17%). Of those who regularly read them, a quarter of people believe that horoscopes accurately predict events in their lives.

Topline Results

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,005 adults in Great Britain aged 16+
  • Interviews were conducted by telephone between 5-7 October 2007
  • Data are weighted to match the profile of the population
  • Where percentages do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, the exclusion of "don't know" categories, or multiple answers.
  • Throughout the volume, an asterisk (*) denotes any value of less than half a per cent
  • Unless otherwise stated, results are based on all respondents
  • Download the data tabulations pdf, 731KB

Qa In general, how happy or unhappy are you with your life at present?

  %
Very happy 48
Fairly happy 41
Neither happy nor unhappy 6
Fairly unhappy 3
Very unhappy 2
Don't know *

Q1-11 I am going to read out a number of things. For each, please tell me whether or not you believe in it.

  Yes No Don't know
  % % %
Life after death 47 43 10
Telepathy 41 53 6
Witches and wizards 13 85 2
Heaven 51 41 8
Hell 35 58 7
Fate 62 33 5
Souls 62 32 6
Premonitions 58 38 4
Reincarnation 23 68 9
Guardian angels 38 57 5
Ghosts 38 57 5

Q12-16 Which, if any, of the things I'm going to read out do you believe in?

  Yes No Don't know
  % % %
That dreams can predict the future 35 60 6
That it is possible to receive communications from the dead 32 61 7
That some crop circles are the work of extra-terrestrial forces 9 84 7
That certain magical words, or spells, can have real effects 12 83 5
That some governments around the world are concealing evidence of extra-terrestrial beings 31 60 9

Q17 Do you read your horoscope on a regular basis? By regular I mean at least once a week.

  %
Yes 23
No 77
Don't know *

Q18 Do you believe that your horoscopes accurately predict events in your life?

  %
Yes 9
No 90
Don't know 1

Q19 Does knowing someone's star sign change the way you think of or behave towards them?

  %
Yes 7
No 92
Don't know 1

Q20 Have you ever seen a ghost? Base: All who believe in ghosts (387)

  %
Yes 36
No 61
Don't know 2

Q21 Do you have something that you occasionally wear or carry around with you that brings you luck?

  %
Yes 16
No 84
Don't know *

Q22 Would you be prepared to sleep in a room in which someone had died within the last month?

  %
Yes 68
No 28
Don't know 5

Q23 Do you ever literally 'touch wood' in order to avoid bad luck?

  %
Yes 51
No 48
Don't know *

Q24 Have you ever sought advice from a fortune-teller, palmist, or Tarot-card reader or medium?

  %
Yes 24
No 76
Don't know *

Q25 Do you consider the number 13 to be unlucky?

  %
Yes 15
No 85
Don't know 0

Q25 Do you ever cross your fingers to bring good luck?

  %
Yes 39
No 60
Don't know *

Q26-29 Do you think or do anything special if you are alone and you …

  Yes No Don't know
  % % %
See a magpie 26 73 1
Break a mirror 7 91 2
Spill salt 22 78 *

Q30 Do you consider yourself to be a religious person?

  %
Yes 37
No 60
Don't know 2
Refused *

Q31 Do you consider yourself to be a spiritual person?

  %
Yes 36
No 62
Don't know 2
Refused *

Q32 Do you believe in God?

  %
Yes 56
No 36
Don't know 8
Refused *

Q33 Do you consider yourself to be a superstitious person?

  %
Yes 22
No 77
Don't know 1
Refused *

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