But how prolific is the belief in psychic ability nowadays? Surely only a minority of people actually still believe in this kind of thing, right?
Top10.com set out to get to the bottom of things in a survey of more than 1,000 Americans. We asked for people’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences with psychics. We took the data, handed it off to our talented graphic designers and they created the stunning graphics you'll find below.
Some of the results were surprising, shocking, and even a little spooky.
Video: Top10.com asks people about their psychic experiences
Everybody Knows That Psychics Are Not Real, Right? Think Again…
One of the most surprising findings of the survey was that almost three-quarters of people believe in psychic ability to some extent.
A total of 54% of people believe in psychic ability somewhat or very much, while only 25% don’t believe in the phenomenon at all. Another 20.3% aren't sure about the issue, which still means they haven't ruled out the existence of psychic ability.
But let’s get a little more granular. The above graph represents all respondents. Let’s zero in on the respondents who’ve never been to a psychic, and see what they have to say:
At first glance, you’d think the majority doesn’t believe in psychic ability.
But a closer look shows that’s not the case. If we compare those who chose “I don’t believe” with the rest of the responses, less than half of people who’d never seen a psychic cited disbelief as their reason.
The majority of people were either too embarrassed to see a psychic, felt it was too expensive, or still plan on going someday (we’ll get to that “Other” soon enough).
Surprisingly, the cumulative sum of people who cited embarrassment, price, procrastination, or “other” was higher than the people who don’t believe in psychic ability.
Our Reading: We expected lack of belief to be the overriding reason why people hadn’t seen psychics. But this simply wasn’t the case. The fact that embarrassment, cost, and procrastination got more responses than disbelief sheds some interesting light on the social stigmas surrounding psychics, suggesting that perhaps we view psychic readings less like magic and more like therapy: a legitimate means of insight with only money and social perception keeping us away.
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Doors that shouldn’t necessarily be opened…
Do people avoid psychics because they don’t believe in them—or because they do?
This is one of the more fascinating insights our study brought to light. Now let’s dive deeper into that “Other” category from above, which required respondents to elaborate on their reasons for never having visited a psychic. Judging by their answers, some of the strongest objections to psychics seemed to have come from the biggest believers of all. Here’s a sample of their responses:
- I feel it may open doors that shouldn't necessarily be opened
- Don't want to know the future
- I’m scared of what they are going to say
- Don’t wanna find something out I don’t wanna know
- Not sure I want to know
- I believe we shouldn't open doors to the spiritual world. You leave your soul open to spiritual attacks
Of the 131 respondents who responded “Other,” only 19 expressed something akin to disbelief.
Among the rest, there was a strong pattern of fear and trepidation, which hardly reflects the idea of psychics as fake.
Our Reading: That so many respondents cited a fear of knowing the future, or of unlocking dangerous spiritual portals, clearly shows that for a good portion of people, the question isn’t “Do psychic powers exist,” but rather “Should they be used?”
More Women Believe in Psychics; More Men Listen to Them
We found some interesting trends when we divided our results by gender. The graph below shows how all respondents viewed psychics in general, broken up by gender:
As you can see, women are much more likely to believe in psychic ability, with two-thirds of female respondents saying that they believe either somewhat or very much. Only 17% of women don’t believe in psychic ability at all.
Male respondents told a completely different story, with 35.5% saying that they don’t believe in psychic ability at all. While male believers were outnumbered by women, there were still more than 48% of them who believe somewhat or very much.
But does belief translate into action? Compare the above information with the following graph, which shows how many men and women actually took their psychics’ words to heart:
The above graph only represents respondents who have visited psychics in the past. Surprisingly, men show more of a tendency to take their psychics’ advice (nearly 60%) than women (about 50%).
This is surprising, especially considering our first graph, which showed that women are more likely to believe in psychic ability than men.
Our Reading: Inconclusive. However, in another part of the survey, we asked respondents how much they spent a year on psychics. While women represented the majority in the “less than $100” category, men dominated in higher spending, representing the majority for the $100-500, $500-$1000, and $1000 and up per year categories. Perhaps men heed their psychics’ advice more because they’re spending more? It’s possible they’re just capitalizing on their investment.
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It came as no surprise that love and relationships are the most talked-about topics with psychics. In this graph you can see a breakdown of the most common subject matters:
Here are the results by 4 age brackets, 18-29, 30-44, 46-60, and 60 and up:
Career, too, is no surprise (15.58%). Health came in 3rd at 14.45% of respondents, which may not be too surprising unless you break down those respondents by age. Then things get interesting.
As it turns out, the young are discussing their health more than we’d expect—and more than their elders do. Our survey shows that people aged 18-29 are more likely to bring health concerns to psychics than every other age group, including, most surprising, respondents aged 60 and up.
Notice how the percentage decreases as respondents get older, until a very slight rebound at the 60- and-up range. Our youngest survey participants spoke most frequently about health, nearly doubling the results in the 2 oldest age brackets.
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Our Reading: It’s surprising that 20% of young people are concerned about their health at all, not to mention enough to make it their second most frequent topic of conversation during a psychic reading. Maybe the younger generation is more proactive about their health than we expected. Or, perhaps they’re viewing traditional medicine as less and less of an authority. It’s also possible that older people already have trusted doctors in place, which is why they spend their time with a psychic focusing on what can’t be answered elsewhere, such as departed relatives, etc. We’re not sure why so many young people go to psychics for health insights, but we’re surprised and fascinated by it.
How’d They Know That?
Twenty-five percent of people who’ve seen psychics were told something they believe the psychic had no way of knowing.
While this doesn’t constitute the majority, the respondents who replied in the positive had some, um, interesting things to say when we asked them what personal information psychics had shared with them.
A good percentage of responses concerned deceased relatives:
- “My great grandma’s name”
- “The death of my sister”
- “Family history, too distinct to ask”
- “My sister died at a young age”
- “Daughter committing suicide, her relationship with her mother”
- “She told me a lot of details about my father's death.”
Some wrote about events that would happen in the future:
- “They told me I would meet certain people in the next ten years, very specific people, and I did”
- “She knew quite a few things.. for one..told me my Mom would hurt her knee and she did 2 years later..also knew my Brother was in London when a bombing happened but thank goodness he was ok..There was a few more things this lady told me so she had to have the gift”
- “She seemed to know my marriage was over before I did”
- “Stomach problems - Got a peptic ulcer a month after”
- “She point blank told me a friend was going to die. She even knew his name. He passed away 2months later”
- “She told me my dad would die when he turns 50. He turned 50 November 2 and died November 26. She didn't know how old he was.”
And others simply mentioned obscure personal details and idiosyncrasies:
- “Had someone ask about my fear of medical helicopters”
- “She called me out of the blue from New York and asked why I was somewhere”
- “She knew my late husbands name and told me "he misses his smoke" which was marijuana. She smelled the air when she told me that. There is no way she knew those exact words.”
- “She told me where the cat was”
So how could a perfect stranger know such intimate details and predict such unexpected life events? For this one, we’re just going to go with one of our respondents’ replies:
“They were psychic. Duh.”
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