A ghostly encounter

March 10, 2011, 9:10 PM GMT+0

A quarter of the British public says that they have ‘experienced a ghost’ with women and Welsh people slightly more likely to believe that they’ve had a taste of the paranormal than the rest of the country.

  • 25% of people think they’ve definitely or probably come across a ghost in their lifetime
  • However, the majority (57%) said they didn’t think they’d had a spooky experience

Region, gender and occupation all seemed to influence the likelihood of a claimed supernatural encounter.

  • Region seemed to be a factor as 15% of our Welsh panellists definitely thought they’d experienced a ghost in comparison to just 5% of Scottish people who agreed
  • 55% of full-time students said they definitely hadn’t ever experienced a ghost, compared to 39% of the general population
  • 31% of women asked thought that they had either ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ experienced a ghost
  • In contrast to 18% of men who felt the same way

Feeling spooked

Ghosts have been a perennially popular theme in storytelling, appearing frequently in Shakespeare’s plays and in Charles Dickens’s famous holiday tale, A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

However ghosts are still seen as the subject of real belief and fear today. Television presenter Holly Willoughby came to the attention of the press recently after bursting into tears and leaving the set of ITV programme This Morning, which she presents with Philip Schofield, after being scared by a piece on ghosts. She explained that, ‘If I was at home I'd have to switch over - I can't listen to anything like that! I honestly think I have a proper ghost phobia’. This preoccupation with the supernatural is also echoed in the numerous reality television series of recent years, which feature ghost hunts and supposed supernatural happenings, including Ghost Hunters, Ghost Lab and Most Haunted.

See the survey details and full results