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Why Do People Believe in Ghosts?




a ghost in dress and veil haunting the woods at night

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Ghosts are incredible. People have claimed to see them, hear them, and feel them, but their existence can’t be proven. If that’s the case, why do people believe in ghosts?

42% of Americans believe in the paranormal, there are several reasons why you might believe in the existence of ghosts. It could be based on emotions, or just because our brains are hardwired to believe. 

Emotional Motivation

One of the main reasons people believe in ghosts is because of emotional attachment to those who have passed. 

If you have lost a loved one, it’s impossible to move on, and the grief feels like it never ends. If you believe in ghosts, you might feel a little relief to know that their soul has lived on, and life doesn’t stop after death. 

You may have even seen or spoken to a medium. This is someone who claims to be able to speak with the dearly departed and can convey messages back to the grieving. 

While some people claim that mediums just talk about very general circumstances that can apply to anyone, they are actually quite specific to each person. If you believe in ghosts, you can find a lot of closure by talking to a medium to see how your loved one is doing. 

Our Brains are Wired for It

Our brains are actually wired to believe in ghosts.

… Well, sort of. When you look outside and you see a face in the trees, or see a rabbit in the clouds, that’s pareidolia. It’s the tendency that humans have to see familiar objects in places where they shouldn’t be. 

Instead of seeing faces in trees and rabbits in clouds, ghost pareidolia is hearing voices and assuming it is a ghost. Or seeing something in the shadow and assuming it’s an apparition of a ghost. 

a ghost hunter holding a camcorder and ghost hunting equipment

Your brain likes to identify ghosts above all else because it’s the ‘scariest’ option to a lot of people. It’s the fear of the unknown and the variability of ghost presentations that make it easy to be afraid of them. 

Humans also enjoy being afraid. This might sound completely backwards because your hair stands straight up, your heart beats faster, you might even feel anxious.

These are all normal reactions to being afraid, but what you can’t see is your brain releasing dopamine – the pleasure chemical – when you’re scared. 

Ghost Hunters

You’ve probably seen them on tv. A small crew being filmed with night vision cameras, talking about EMFs, orbs, and apparitions? 

If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen a tv show about ghost hunting. Ghost hunters go to a location that is said to be haunted and they try to document their existence.

a man holding a ghost hunting instrument to detect ghost in a cemetery

The paranormal is extremely difficult to prove because the evidence is circumstantial at best, but take a look at the different pieces of equipment used to capture evidence:

Infrared Thermometer: Infrared thermometers are used to locate cold spots in a room. Cold spots suggest you are in the presence of a ghost. 

Digital Voice Recorder: It’s important that the voice recorder is digital so you don’t pick up any excess noise from the machine itself. Ghost hunters will often ask ghosts questions to get an answer from ghosts, and they need the digital voice recorder to pick up their answers.

If the audio quality isn’t crisp, the sound file can be refined to provide a more clear understanding of what may have been said. 

people who believe in ghosts

EMF Sensor: An Electromagnetic Field sensor shows the differences in electromagnetic activity. If you have an EMF sensor out, and it starts to spike, you could be detecting paranormal activity. 

Digital Camera with Night Vision: If you’re hunting ghosts in the dark, a digital camera with night vision is important. If you try taking a photo in the dark, you either won’t see anything, or your flash will go off casting shadows that you might mistake for something else.

When you look back at the pictures, you might see an orb or a full apparition of a ghost!

There are reasonable explanations for each piece of evidence which makes it extremely difficult to prove the existence of ghosts to people who might not believe as easily. 

If you want to try this for yourself, but don’t know where to start, check out the complete beginner’s guide to ghost hunting!

Wrapping It Up

There are many reasons why a person might believe in ghosts. The belief might help them grieve a lost loved one. They may have seen ghost hunters on tv working to prove the existence of ghosts. Or maybe it’s just their brain is hardwired to believe in the paranormal. 

Whatever the reason, it’s impressive that 42% of Americans believe in something that doesn’t have concrete evidence. 

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