One in Four Americans Superstitious

by David W. Moore

Younger people more superstitious than older people

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- This Friday falls on October 13th, which folklore suggests is a day of bad luck. In a September 1996 Gallup poll, 25% of Americans acknowledged that they were "very" (1%) or "somewhat" (24%) superstitious, up from 18% who said that in 1990. The poll also shows that younger people tend to be more superstitious than older people. Over a third (35%) of those under the age of 30 said they were superstitious, but the percentage declines as people get older, so that only 17% of those 65 and older were superstitious.

More than a quarter -- 27% -- said they were superstitious about "knocking on wood," with 13% superstitious about a black cat crossing one's path, 12% about walking under a ladder, 11% about breaking a mirror, 9% about speaking ill of a person (that it will come true), and 9% about the number 13. Again, younger people (under 30) were more likely than older people (65 and older) to be superstitious about a black cat (19% vs. 12%), breaking a mirror (21% vs. 10%), speaking ill of a person (15% vs. 5%), and knocking on wood (38% to 18%). There was little difference in superstition by age on the other two items -- walking under a ladder and the number 13.

Survey Methods

The results reported here are based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and older, conducted September 3-5, 1996. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points.

Some people are superstitious and try to behave in such a way as to avoid bad luck or "jinxing" themselves, and others are not. How superstitious are you …

96 Sep 3-5

90 Jun 14-17

 
     

1%

3%

Very,

24

15

Somewhat,

28

26

Not very, or

47

56

Not at all?

*

*

No opinion

100%

100%

 

Are you superstitious about each of the following, or not?First, ... Next, ... . [READ AND ROTATE a-f]

 

Yes, superstitious

No, not superstitious

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

a. A black cat crossing your path

13

86

1

       

b. Walking under a ladder

12

87

1

       

c. The number 13

9

90

1

       

d. Breaking a mirror

11

88

1

       

e. Speaking ill of a person makes it come true

9

89

2

       

f. Knocking on wood

27

72

1

* Less than 0.5%

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