The YouGov Spying Study Part One: What Britons think about becoming a spy

Milan DinicResearch Manager
September 30, 2021, 9:21 AM UTC

Most Britons think that for someone to be a good spy they need to be highly intelligent (59%) and to be analytical (57%). Just under half (45%) think having strong personal skills is essential, four in ten (41%) think that a good spy needs to be culturally well-rounded, and 6% think they should be well-spoken.

When it comes to traits relating more to ethics, 27% think that a spy should be cunning, while 21% think they should be honest and have integrity.

Women are more likely than men to emphasise honesty and integrity (24% vs 19%). Men are more likely than women to say a spy should be cunning (31% vs 24%).

Approaching half of Britons (47%) say they would like to work for UK’s security services, according to the YouGov Study on Spying. Men (53%) are more likely than women (41%) to be interested in this.

Four in ten Britons – more women (45%) than men (30%) – say they wouldn’t like to work for Britain’s spying services.

Britons are split on whether they would make a good spy if trained properly. Around four in ten (43%) think they would and a further four in ten (41%) say they would not, with 17% saying they don’t know.

Men (46%) are more confident than women (39%) that they would be good at spying if trained properly.

Younger Britons are most likely to think they would be good at spying: 51% of 16-24-year-olds say they would make good spies, compared to 35-42% of those aged 40 and above.

Just under half of Britons (46%) think that being a spy is ‘a cool job’. Younger Britons are more likely than the older generation to think this: 68% of  16-24-year-olds, compared to 28% of those aged 60 and older. Younger women in particular are likely to think it is a cool job (71%, vs 64% of 16-24 year old men).

A quarter (27%) of Britons say they don’t think being a spy is ‘cool’.

For just over four in ten (43%) Britons, being a spy is an honourable job, while a fifth (22%) do not.

See the full results here and here