Belief in witches and witchcraft is so widespread that in some countries as many as 9 in 10 people believe in them.
Witches have been a staple of superstitious belief for millennia, but while the idea that there are those who can inflict curses or injuries on others using supernatural powers might seem like something relegated to the distant past, it is still remarkably prevalent – even in modern first-world countries.
This fact has been brought into sharp focus by the results of an extensive Pew Research Center study which polled 140,000 people from 95 countries (excluding China and India) over a nine-year period.
“Do you believe in the evil eye, or that certain people can cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen to someone?” the survey question asked.
The overall result suggested that as many as 4 in 10 people worldwide do believe in witchcraft, with women, young people and those who live in cities more likely to answer “yes”.
More affluent individuals, including those with higher paid jobs and higher levels of education, were more likely to vote “no”, while those in poverty were more likely to vote “yes”.
Those with strong religious beliefs also shared a higher likelihood of believing in witchcraft.
There were also significant differences between countries, with, for example, 91% of those in Sweden voting “no” and a whopping 90% of those in Tunisia voting “yes”.
“Overall, religious and witchcraft beliefs, both centered on the key role of supernatural powers in life, go hand in hand,” the researchers wrote.