- UK adults spend an estimated average of 169 hours a year doing puzzles
- Crosswords, wordsearches and Sudoku top the puzzle charts in a new survey
- Nearly a third of UK adults spend more time doing puzzles since the pandemic
- More than two thirds of UK adults are puzzled by financial jargon
UK adults spend an estimated average of 169 hours a year on average doing puzzles - equivalent to a whole week - a new study reveals.
According to research from Aviva, more than four fifths of UK adults are self-confessed “puzzlers”, with 84% having done the likes of jigsaws, number posers and word challenges in the last 12 months. A similar proportion (81%) say they are likely to be doing puzzles over the festive period.
The most popular brainteasers are revealed as crosswords, with 46% of UK adults attempting them in the last year. This is followed by wordsearches (41%), Sudoku (37%), and jigsaws (34%). However, the retro appeal of the Rubik’s cube is still apparent, with 13% having tackled one during this period, rising to more than a third (34%) of adults aged 18-24. (For full list of puzzle types see the table further down the page.)
The research was carried out to support a new Aviva campaign designed to help people get to grips with any financial matters they find puzzling.
A daily dose of puzzles
Among those who have done puzzles in the last 12 months, one in six (17%) typically tackle them on a daily basis, while 22% do them “most days”. Overall, people take part in puzzle sessions on average 11 times a month.
The typical time per sitting varies, with two in five (38%) puzzling for 30-60 minutes and one in 12 (8%) taking two to three hours over their teasers. The average time overall is an hour and 15 minutes per typical sitting.
Based on these figures, this stacks up to more than 14 hours each month or 169 hours a year spent puzzling on average.
The Covid outbreak seems to have increased people’s penchant for puzzles too, with nearly a third of UK adults (31%) spending more time doing them than before the pandemic started.
Puzzling it out (or seeking out help)?
When faced with a puzzle they can’t crack, people are most likely to take a break and come back to it later (45%), although a determined 35% will keep going until they solve it.
On the flipside, almost a fifth (19%) will search for a solution online, a similar number will ask friends or family for help (18%) and a rogue one in 20 (5%) will bodge the solution - for example, forcing letters to fit a crossword or squeezing in jigsaw pieces!
The study also examined a number of everyday aspects that people find confusing. It reveals that 69% of UK adults are puzzled by financial jargon and three quarters (75%) are confused by the economy. A significant proportion find maths puzzling, with 62% admitting to this.
Traditional or online?
Perhaps surprisingly, UK adults are more likely to show a preference for doing puzzles in a physical format (34%) over a digital one (24%) - although two-fifths of respondents have no preference for one over the other.
This is true of almost all age groups, although those aged 55 and above, are more likely than others to prefer ‘physical ’ formats where a preference is made (43% compared to 34% across all age groups).
Phoebe Barter, Brand Director for Aviva, says: “Our research suggests we are a nation of puzzlers! Most of us love to give our minds a workout, often picking up a puzzle several times a month. It’s the feeling of satisfaction we get when a puzzle is solved and everything becomes clear.
“However, our research also shows us that a lot of us find our finances confusing and puzzling. Many people are bamboozled by the economy and financial jargon, so we want to help tackle this and make these conundrums click for our customers.
“Getting to grips with the likes of insurance and pensions can be a huge weight off our minds. At Aviva we’re here to help people make sense of financial matters, so the only puzzles in our lives are the enjoyable variety!”
The study also found:
- Adults under 25 are the second most likely age group to have done crosswords in the last 12 months (44%) – second only to those aged 55+ (55%).
- Those aged 45-54 spend the least time on average doing puzzles each month at 9.7 hours, compared to those aged 55 and above who spend the most time: 14.7 hours.
- Popular reasons given for doing puzzles include: “I enjoy them” (54%), “to keep my mind active” (54%), “to challenge myself” (47%) and “to relax” (43%).
The research was carried out by Ipsos UK on behalf of Aviva. Ipsos UK interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,379 adults aged 18+ in the United Kingdom using its online i:omnibus between 1st and 3rd Nov 2022. The sample obtained is representative of the population of this audience with quotas on Age, Gender, Region and Working Status. The data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age, working status and social grade within gender, and for government office region and education, to reflect the adult population of the United Kingdom.
Puzzles done in the last 12 months:
Type of puzzle
Proportion of UK adults who have done this type of puzzle in the last 12 months
Anagrams / creating words out of letters
Wooden puzzles (e.g., locked box, interlocking puzzles, etc.)
I have not done any puzzles in the last 12 months
Notes to editors:
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