Accounts of mysterious flashing lights in the sky, spacecrafts and encounters with “real” aliens reflect high levels of public interest in UFOs and the belief that there is “something out there”. However, many psychologists are less convinced, and think they can provide more down-to-earth, scientific explanations.
Belief in aliens has increased steadily since the birth of modern alien research in the 1940s and 1950s, following the news surrounding a classified US military project at Roswell Air Force Base, New Mexico. Surveys in Western cultures estimated belief in aliens to be as high as 50% in 2015. And despite the fact that it is considered rare, a significant number of people also believe they have experienced alien abduction.
Present day awareness of alien abduction dates to the 1961 case of Betty and Barney Hill, who witnessed odd lights and experienced “missing time” and “lost memories” while driving. The reported consequences of abduction are often loss of memory, missing time, and problems such as sickness, sleepwalking, nightmares and psychological trauma. Following their experience, Betty and Barney experienced psychological problems and subsequently sought therapy.