Who Sees UFOs? The Relationship Between Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Sightings and Personality Factors

How to Cite

Stubbings, D., Ali, S., & Wong, A. (2024). Who Sees UFOs? The Relationship Between Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Sightings and Personality Factors. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 38(1), 11-27. https://doi.org/10.31275/20243153


Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) have become a serious topic in the US Congress, and new legislation has been released outlining a plan for declassification for the public. There are numerous factors that could lead an individual to mistakenly think they saw a UAP, and one of those factors might be the proclivities of the personalities that observe what they think to be a UAP. This study examined the big five personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, as well as schizotypy traits, to see if UAP experiencers could be distinguished from people who had not seen a UAP. The study included 206 participants, with 103 people who self-reported to have seen a UAP. Latent profile analysis was conducted on the personality variables to explore the grouping of participants. Group one was average on the traits, a second cluster was labeled as the Neurotic/Schizotypy group, which was high in neuroticism and schizotypy traits, and a third group was labeled as O-ACE, which were high on openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion but low on neuroticism and schizotypy traits. The findings indicated that the O-ACE group was more likely to see UAP, but this effect was not strong. A presumptuous stereotype exists in the general public that people who see UAP are probably people who are emotionally reactive (neurotic) and vulnerable to perceptual and cognitive abnormalities, but this was not evident in our data. We also found that the descriptive UAP accounts by the general public were similar to the descriptions provided by military witnesses. It was also of note that only 28% of participants reported their sightings anywhere, and 14% used a UFO reporting organization, which suggests that events are vastly underreported. Stigma and a lack of places to legitimately report sightings appeared to be primary barriers. The conclusion of this study is that personality factors are an insufficient explanation for most UAP sightings.

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