London: The sight of flying saucers could drive people into panic on the streets, sci-fi would have us believe.
But people have become so used to the idea of alien life that they would be 'unfazed' if little green men appeared in their presence, argues psychologist Albert Harrison, reports the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
He said things have changed dramatically since 1961, when the US Congress was warned evidence of extra-terrestrials would lead to widespread panic, according to the Daily Mail.
In North America and Europe at least, neither the discovery of an alien nor the detection of alien radio signals were now likely to lead to "widespread psychological disintegration and collapse", he concluded.
People had been getting used to the idea of extra-terrestrials since the Seti (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project first began listening out for alien radio signals 50 years ago, he said.
Today, surveys suggest that half of the US and Europe believes in aliens, while a ‘substantial proportion' are convinced alien spacecraft had already visited the Earth.
Ted Peters, theologian at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, surveyed 1,300 people of different faiths around the world.
He wrote: "It became clear that the vast majority of religious believers, regardless of religion, see no threat to their personal beliefs caused by potential contact with intelligent neighbours on other worlds."