60% of Americans Believe in Extraterrestrial Life

Posted on June 1, 2005

Almost two-thirds of Americans do believe that life exists on other planets, and of that group, 90% say if we receive a message from another planet we should reply. The nationally representative telephone survey of 1,000 Americans -- 523 women and 477 men aged 18+ -- was conducted between April 20 and May 2, 2005by the University of Connecticut's Center For Survey Research and Analysis (CSRA) in association with the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and National Geographic Channel (NGC).

Here are some of the findings from the survey:

  • 60% of Americans believe life exists on other planets
  • More men than women believe life exists on other planets, 69% vs. 51%
  • 72% of those who believe life exists on other planets would be "excited and hopeful" upon learning that life had been found on other planets.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to feel "nervous and afraid" if we learn life exists -- 27% vs. 13%
  • Men are more likely to feel excited and hopeful if we find life on other planets -- 78% vs. 65%
  • People who are regular churchgoers are less-likely to believe in life on other planets compared to non-churchgoers, 46% vs. 70%
  • 63% of college graduates believe in life in outer space
  • Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to believe in life on other planets
  • 7 out of 10 Americans think the intelligent life forms on other planets would be similar to humans
  • 8 out of 10 Americans think it is likely that the intelligent life forms on other planets are more advanced than us
  • 7 out of 10 Americans think it is likely that these life forms have the technology to travel through space
  • 7 out of 10 Americans think that these life forms have the technology to communicate across deep space
  • 90% of Americans who believe life exists think we should communicate back if we heard communications coming from another planet
  • Of those who do not believe in life on other planets, if we should hear something, 2/3 think we should respond

    "It is quite likely that there is life elsewhere in our galaxy, and there's a real possibility that we will find evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life by the year 2025," said Dr. Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer with the SETI Institute, and an expert featured in Extraterrestrial, a National Geographic special on the subject. "In light of all the interest in alien life in movie theaters this past week, it is interesting that the majority of Americans truly believe extraterrestrial life exists on other planets."