The age of reason has not yet fully dawned, apparently. Almost one-quarter of British adults claim to have consulted a psychic or medium, even though many fewer (one in seven) believe that these intermediaries have a real ability to predict the future and/or talk to the dead.
This is according to a YouGov survey published on 5 October. Fieldwork was conducted online among a representative sample of 2,500 Britons aged 18 and over on 25-26 September 2011. The data tables are available at:
Asked whether they had ever consulted a psychic or medium, 75% said no and 23% yes. Of the latter, 11% had done so only for fun and 12% with serious intent. Women (32%) were far more likely to have visited a psychic than men (12%). The 18-24s also recorded a low figure (13%).
The overall proportion who had consulted a psychic or medium was consistent with previous YouGov polls in October 2004 (24%) and October 2007 (25%) and with the Hereafter Report of January 2011 (22%), but it was larger than in a Populus survey of April 2005 (17%).
Of those who had consulted a psychic or medium, 57% felt the consultation had been truthful and 33% untruthful, with 9% uncertain. The perception of truthfulness increased with age, from 40% among the 18-24s to 62% with the over-60s. It was also higher among manual workers (63%) than non-manuals (52%) and comparatively low for Londoners and Scots (51%).
However, just 14% of the whole sample actually believed that psychics have a genuine ability to predict the future and/or talk to the dead, comprising 7% of men and 20% of women. 58% did not consider that psychics have such skills, of whom nearly three in five (34%) contended that they were deliberately deceiving the public.
Such deception has been in the news lately, with doubts raised about the genuineness of one of the country’s best-known psychics.
Finally, respondents were asked by YouGov to rate how spiritual they judged themselves. Three-fifths said that they were not spiritual, rising to 71% with men, 65% for 18-24s, and 64% for non-manual workers.
35% described themselves as spiritual, including 45% of women and 40% of the over-60s. This compares with 32% in last January’s Hereafter Report, which also gave religiosity as an alternative to spirituality, a choice not available in the current YouGov poll.