National Institute for Discovery Science

Unusual Personal Experiences 1991 and 1998

In 1991 the Roper Organization was commissioned to conduct three surveys designed to ascertain what number of people reported unusual experiences. The questions were developed by Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs, Ph.D. Each survey repeated the same eleven questions, of which five were considered key. By conducting the survey three times, the margin of error was reduced to + 1.4%. Based on the response of 5,947 adults the researchers concluded, "experiences known to be associated with UFO abductions are surprisingly prevalent."

In 1998 the Roper Organization was asked to again conduct the survey containing the same eleven questions three times. The survey of 5,955 men and women was conducted between 7 March and 27 June. Interestingly, the results were quite different from those of 1991 and those reporting unusual experiences decreased significantly.

In the 1991 survey, five questions were identified as key. In comparing the results between the two years, it was noted that the 1998 response to all key questions are significantly lower than those reported in 1991. In fact, the responses in 1998 to all questions were either lower, or statistically similar to those of 1991. In no instance was an increase observed.

A comparison of the responses to he five key questions is as follows:

Table 1

When the combined figures for people answering positively to four or five key questions are reviewed the numbers drop from 2% of the population to 1% of the total. That in fact represents a decline of approximately 50% of the number of people thought to have had a UFO abduction.

Two technical errors were noted in the conduct of these surveys but are not considered serious enough to invalidate the results. First, there was a change in wording of one question. In the 1991 survey the question read, "Having vivid dreams about UFO’s." In the 1998 survey the question read, "having been abducted by the occupants of a UFO." Second, in both surveys the word TRONDANT was used as a control to identify people who tend to agree with anything asked of them. TRONDANT was believed to have been made up by the researchers in 1991 and therefore without meaning. In fact, Trondant is a word, though not one in common usage.

A comparison of raw data for each category follows.

 Table 2


  Table 3


As with the 1991 survey, in 1998 the answers to the five key questions were compared to determine    how many respondents answered positively to one, two, three, four, or all five questions. Those who also responded positively to the control question, knowledge of the word Trondant, were automatically excluded. The comparison is as follows:

Table 4

Although a few elements remain constant, most of the numbers indicate a downward trend; no reason for that trend could be determined. However, this downward trend is counter to the claims of skeptics who profess that the population has been contaminated by movies, television, and magazine articles about UFO abductions. According to their theory, a rise in number should have been seen due to the immense public interest in this controversial topic.

During the 1991 survey it was noticed that a group of people identified as "Political/Social Actives" reported a higher number of unusual experiences when compared with the population at large. This group is believed to be more influential in setting social trends. For purposes of this report they are designated as "Influentials or Inf." The 1998 survey demonstrated two interesting results. In all areas, the responses reported by this group were down from the 1991 survey. However, the "Influentials" did show higher response to all questions than did the general public. The response rates for 1991 and 1998 surveys are as follows:

Table 5

The reasons for the differences, either between 1991 and 1998 response, or why "Influentials" report a higher number of incidents, are not known. It may be that people identified as "Influentials" are more sensitive to their surroundings and thus tend to notice things that others do not. There is a fairly steep decline in responses to most of the key questions noted in the 1998 survey but again, no reason for it is discernable.