How The Perception Of Ouija Boards Has Been Shaped By Their Negative Portrayal In Popular Culture

We recently asked our readers to share their thoughts and experiences on Ouija boards. Over 700 people responded to the survey, which provided some interesting results, especially in regards to how the portrayal of Ouija boards in popular culture has affected people’s perceptions of them.

Three quarters of people surveyed said they have used a Ouija board themselves, of those 59% say they’ve had a personal experience with a board that they’d consider to be paranormal or supernatural. 9% of those who have used a Ouija board reported having a violent or dangerous experience while using a the board. 

It’s often said in the paranormal community that you “shouldn’t mess with things you don’t understand.” Well, it seems that of the the 75% of people who have used a Ouija board, 64% understand what the ideomotor effect is. A slightly lower percentage (46%) of those who have never used a board are aware of this psychological principle.

The ideomotor effect is a phenomenon that can occur when a person unconsciously moves their muscles based on their thoughts, beliefs, or expectations. In the context of Ouija boards, the ideomotor effect refers to the idea that the movements of the planchette are not controlled by supernatural forces, but rather by the unconscious movements of the participants.

Where the results get really interesting is when you analyse the responses from people depending on their opinion of how Ouija boards are portrayed in popular culture, such as movies and TV shows.

Overall, 79% of respondents said that they felt that Ouija boards are portrayed negatively in popular culture, while just 4% said they are shown in a positive light. The remaining 18% of respondents’ votes were split evenly between ‘neutral’ and ‘not sure.’ Almost three-quarters of respondents said that this is a misleading portrayal, while just 8% said it was accurate.

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If we just look at the segment of responses where the respondent said that this negative portrayal is accurate, 100% of them went on to say that they thought that Ouija boards have the potential to be dangerous. This compares with just 58% of the segment who says that the negative portrayal of Ouija boards is misleading.

Looking at these two segments further, of those who said negative portrayal is accurate, 92% of respondents said that they thought a Ouija board is a tool for communicating with spirits, the remaining 8% said they’re not sure. In contrast only 55% of those who think that the negative cultural portrayal of Ouija boards is misleading said that they thought a Ouija board is a tool for communicating with spirits. 23% of this group said that they think a Ouija board is “just a game.”

These two segments also had noticeably different levels of awareness about the ideomotor effect. 42% of the ‘negative portrayal is accurate’ segment said they were aware of the principles, whereas 67% of the ‘negative portrayal is misleading’ segment said they were aware of it. A quarter of the former segment said that unconscious movements might explain the movement of the planchette on a Ouija board, while two-thirds of the latter segment thought this might be the case.

Looking at the responses as a whole, 45% said that they have heard of someone having a violent or dangerous experience while using a Ouija board, versus 51% who say they’ve not heard of such an experience. 8% said they’ve had a violent or dangerous experience while using a Ouija board themselves, compared to a massive 89% who haven’t experienced the same dangers.

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You can see the full results of our survey below, which was conducted in February 2023.

Our Ouija board survey is still open and accepting responses. We may follow up this article if there are significant changes to the results in the future. This might naturally occur if the survey reaches a wider and more varied set of respondents.

You can help out by having your say here and sharing the survey with your friends and family, even if they’re not actively interested in the paranormal, we’d love to hear about their thoughts and experiences.

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