SurveyMonkey was used in order to conduct this poll. Links to our survey were posted on the Alpha Delta Pi “Help a Sister Out” page on Facebook, and sent to GroupMe group messages of which our surveyors were members. By using these mediums of surveying, we sought to engage college students in our poll and establish them as our preeminent demographic of study.
We asked the following questions of our respondents:
1. What is your gender
2. What is your college major?
3. In which region of the United States do you live?
4. How religious do you consider yourself? How spiritual do you consider yourself?
5. Have you had a ghostly encounter?
6. If yes [to the previous question], please elaborate on your experience.
7. Do you believe in other supernatural entities (witches, demons, angels, aliens, etc.)?
8. Do you enjoy watching ghost-themed shows (Ghosthunters, The Haunted, Paranormal Witness, etc.)?
9. How do you feel about the idea of ghosts?
10. Would you actively seek out a ghost (Ouija Board, Electromagnetic Field Detectors, Bloody Mary, Voicebox, etc.)?
We had a total of 37 participants, with 8 males and 29 females. The survey was skewed towards women, and this was possibly due to the use of a national sorority page and ADPi group messages. The data on major type was extremely varied and and there was not a real correlation between major and ghost beliefs. For region, we had data from every region except New England. As a result, we decided to not conduct a comprehensive analysis on region since we had no data on one region. For spirituality and religiosity, the average for spirituality was higher than religiosity. Both averages were between the “Undecided” and “Somewhat” options on the scale for the question. Most people said they had not had a ghostly encounter, but 25% of participants said they had. We asked people to elaborate on their story if they had one, and the stories ranged from a Civil War soldier haunting a girl’s childhood home to a lamp being turned on repeatedly. 60% of participants said they did believe in other entities. Most people said they did not like watching ghost-themed television shows. For the question regarding feelings towards ghosts, 50% of participants replied they were curious about the idea of ghosts, 25% were indifferent, 10% were frightened, and the rest were amused. In regards to actively seeking out a ghost, the overwhelming majority of 73% said “No.”
For our analysis, we looked at several intersections of the data to draw conclusions. First we examined the correlation in college majors. We had a very wide range of college majors ranging from English to Nutrition. There was absolutely no correlation between majors – two biology majors gave contradictory answers to ghost belief questions and some science majors who were not religious said they were very superstitious.
We also looked at gender as a tool of analysis. In men, we saw a large amount of indifference – 5 out of 8 men said they were indifferent about ghosts. Only 9 said they were indifferent overall. No men reported having a ghostly encounter and only one said they would seek out a ghost. This mirrors what we have talked about in class that women are more likely seek out ghosts and report an encounter.
In terms of religion, we found that 4 out of 9 people who had seen a ghost also said they were not at all religious or spiritual. This is very interesting because we had assumed that more religious people would be more likely to be open to ghostly interactions. Overall we found that religion was largely divorced from specifically ghostly encounters. In the entire Bible Belt area – the traditionally most religious area of the country – only had one report of ghostly interactions. However, 11 of 15 people from this region say they believe in other entities, but not ghost. This could be consistent with what we learned in glass about evangelical religions being more grounded in belief in angels and demons rather than ghosts.
We also found that the age at the interaction was also very visible. Out of the people who provided a description of their interaction, 5 out of 10 people said the incident occurred during their childhood. More cited figures standing in their bedroom or childhood homes. Almost everyone was under the age of 10.