Research

A nation of puzzlers: 63% of UK adults do puzzles at least once a week

  • 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.

Couple on pavement looking at their car which has been cut up into pieces like a puzzle
A scene from our new campaign

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!

Pair of twins in football kit, both tilting their heads and looking confused
A scene from our new campaign

Financial head-scratchers?

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).

Person pushing a piece of their house - which has been cut up into puzzle pieces. In the piece is an upside down window and cat
A scene from our new campaign

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%).

Sources

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

Crossword(s)

46%

Wordsearch

41%

Sudoku

37%

Jigsaw(s)

34%

Wordle

27%

Anagrams / creating words out of letters

22%

Brain-training puzzle(s)

21%

 Logic puzzle(s)

20%

Rubik’s cube

13%

Wooden puzzles (e.g., locked box, interlocking puzzles, etc.)

11%

Sliding puzzle(s)

8%

Other

7%

I have not done any puzzles in the last 12 months

15%

Don’t know

1%

Media enquiries

Sarah Poulter

UK External Communications

Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK’s leading Insurance, Wealth & Retirement business and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in Singapore, China and India.
  • We help our 18.5 million customers make the most out of life, plan for the future, and have the confidence that if things go wrong we’ll be there to put it right.
  • We have been taking care of people for 325 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’. In 2021, we paid £30.2 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
  • Aviva is a market leader in sustainability. In 2021, we announced our plan to become a Net Zero carbon emissions company by 2040, the first major insurance company in the world to do so. This plan means Net Zero carbon emissions from our investments by 2040; setting out a clear pathway to get there with a cut of 25% in the carbon intensity of our investments by 2025 and of 60% by 2030; and Net Zero carbon emissions from our own operations and supply chain by 2030.  Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition and action at www.aviva.com/sustainability
  • Aviva is a Living Wage and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at https://www.aviva.com/about-us/our-people/
  • As at 30 June 2022, total Group assets under management at Aviva Group were £353 billion and our Solvency II shareholder capital surplus at 30 September 2022 was £8.8 billion. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
  • For more details on what we do, our business and how we help our customers, visit www.aviva.com/about-us
  • The Aviva newsroom at www.aviva.com/newsroom includes links to our spokespeople images,  podcasts, research reports and our news release archive. Sign up to get the latest news from Aviva by email.
  • You can follow us on:
  • For the latest corporate films from around our business, subscribe to our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/aviva

      More from our Newsroom