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Do ghosts exist? New research explores beliefs in the paranormal

  • Study carried out by MMU psychology researchers show 38% of people believe in ghosts
  • Women are more likely to believe in the paranormal than men

Is there life beyond death? Do ghosts really exist? Are aliens real? These are the continuing mysteries of the universe.

Every person has their own beliefs and ideas about the paranormal but a study by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University has revealed some spooky findings, with 38% saying they believe in ghosts.

Researchers asked more than 3,500 people what they thought about witchcraft, superstition, extraterrestial life forms, traditional religious beliefs, psychokinesis and precognition.

Dr Neil Dagnall, reader in applied cognitive psychology, said: “We wanted to see ... if you tended to believe in witchcraft and superstition, did you also believe in hell-heaven or the devil?”

Speaking to people in Manchester, the Northern Quota found most people do not actually believe in ghosts.

Sarah, 18, said: “No I don’t believe in ghosts because I have never seen one and there isn’t any concrete proof of such.”

But  Muskaan, 17, said: “Yes I do believe in ghosts because I’ve seen one and been in the presence of one.”

Women are more open to alternative views of the world and men are usually close minded when it comes to the paranormal.

Dr Dagnall added: “Over the years there have been many studies on gender differences and the studies tend to find that women generally believe in the paranormal more than men. I have always interpreted that it is due to the fact that women are more open to alternative views of the world, and men are usually close minded when it comes to the paranormal.”

While every person has different experiences, Dr Dagnall believes some people believe in the paranormal because it gives them some certainty in the world and “in the case when a relative has passed away and the idea that you know that they have gone onto another plane of existence also gives you reassurance so those factors tend to be quite dominant”.

There have been many such studies carried out over time and they give us an interesting insight into people’s thinking and why they have certain beliefs. 

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