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NASA has discovered a mysterious satellite they call the ‘Black Knight’ in orbit around Earth. Theorists believe it is a UFO from another civilized planet. Skeptics dismiss it as space junk.

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Extraterrestrial enthusiasts argue heatedly with cynics. How could the ancient Egyptianshave assembled pyramids that were architecturally advanced for their time if not for help from space? Even Albert Einstein said that time travel is possible if we can beat the speed of light.

The theorists view the unbelievers as narrow-minded and dull. In contrast, the skeptics think of them as delusional to trust outrageous claims with little scientific credibility.

Stereotypes vs Psychology


Theorists and skeptics are put to the test in a study done by Viren Swami University of Westminster and Malaysia University, along with psychologists Jacob Pietschnig, Stefan Stieger, and Martin Voracek.

They composed an Extraterrestrial Beliefs Scale (EBS). They included three sub-tests in the 37 items on the EBS to examine the subjects belief on the topic of UFO, the government involvement, and the importance of scientific research.

Sub-Test #1: The Australian Sheep-Goat Method

To evaluate the belief in alien life and visitation, the psychologists used the Australian Sheep-Goat Method which researchers use to assess belief in paranormal activity. As so named, the “sheep” are the people who believe in telekinesis, extrasensory perception, and the afterlife. The “goats” are the ones who doubt the paranormal. Swami assumed that the “sheep” would be likely to also believe in the extraterrestrial theories.


Sub-Test #2: The Five-Factor Inventory

Swami and his team used a version of this to assess the personality traits of the subjects in connection to their beliefs about alien life.

Sub-Test #3: “Schizotypy” Scale

The participants completed a test stating whether they experience schizophrenic-like symptoms such as delusions, limited social relations, disordered thinking, and hallucinations. This was followed by basic demographic inquiries about their age, gender, education, and religious outlook.

The Results

Swami concluded UFO enthusiasts are more likely to be superstitious and believe in paranormal activity and the afterlife, in addition to having bizarre perceptual experiences. They scored high on personality traits such as openness to new experiences, willing to fantasize, and experimental.

They also recorded that adults with higher education got lower on the extraterrestrial belief scale.

The tally of the affirmations with the UFO-believing factors on EBS scale was relatively low, scoring two on a five-point scale. Nevertheless, enough participants endorsed the EBS items, enabling the psychologists to detect these patterns in their personalities.

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Put Your Extraterrestrial Beliefs to the Test

These are some sample items from the EBS test. Rate yourself from one to seven, one meaning you strongly agree, seven meaning you strongly disagree.

  1. The government covers up the existence of alien life.
  1. UFOs observed in the sky are in fact sighting of spacecraft of intelligent extraterrestrials.
  1. Intelligent extraterrestrial life has visited Earth.
  1. The military knows that extraterrestrial life exists.
  1. Extraterrestrial creatures have visited Earth in the distant past or at the dawn of human civilization.
  1. Crop circle patterns are caused by  actions of extraterrestrials
  1. Extraterrestrial life had once existed on Mars.
  1. Ancient monuments, for example, the pyramids of Egypt, are evidence of alien life because they couldn’t have been built without technical capabilities beyond those of people at that time.
  1. Scientists know that extraterrestrial life does exist.
  1. Skepticism about alien life is a psychosocial trend conditioned or perpetuated by those in power.

Items number 1-6 are the most related to belief in alien invasion and cover-ups. The higher your score is, the more skeptical you are about UFOs and alien life.

As the legendary scientist, Carl Sagan once said, “Just because we have no evidence of extraterrestrial life doesn’t mean that such life does not exist.” Many participants were willing to agree with other items on the EBS (scoring in 5.9), as they repeated his statement.

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