Perceptions are not reality

Contextual intel from ipsos mori, 2015-12-05

“We’re delighted to share the latest findings from Perils of Perception 2015. This year we have included new questions on key issues such as obesity, inequality and the proportion of female politicians in each country. The study is also larger than ever with 33 countries taking part for 2015.”

There’s a slide set

(excerpt from ipsos mori web site)

In Great Britain we get a lot of things very wrong …

The wealth that the top 1% own: we massively overestimate the proportion of wealth that the wealthiest 1% own. The average guess is 59% when the actual figure is 23%. In fact, Britain is the most wrong on this out of any of the 33 countries included in the study. And when asked what % they think the wealthiest 1% SHOULD own, the public say on average 20%, only slightly below the actual figure.

Obesity: weight is a growing public health issue, but our survey suggests we aren’t as worried about it as we should be. Britons think 44% of those aged over 20 are overweight or obese, but the actual figure is much higher at 62%.

The non-religious population: we hugely over-estimate the proportion of atheists, agnostics and those who do not affiliate themselves with any religion – the average guess is 45% when the actual figure is almost half that (25%).

Immigration: we think 25% of the population are immigrants – nearly twice the actual figure of 13%.

25-34 year-olds living with parents: perhaps reflecting concern about the difficulties young people face getting on the housing ladder, we hugely overestimate the proportion of 25-34 year olds who still live with their parents. The average guess is 43%, which is three times the actual figure of just 14%.

Average age: we think the British population is much older than it actually is – the average estimate is 51 years old, when the average age is only 40. The widespread discussion of our ageing population seems to have stuck with people.

Population aged under 14: despite the perception that the population is on average older than it actually is, Britons also greatly overestimate proportion of the population aged under 14, at 27% – much higher than the real figure of 17%.

Female politicians: we slightly underestimate the number of female MPs in the House of Commons. The average guess is 23% when the actual figure is 29%.

Female employment: Britons correctly guess that most women are in work, although slightly underestimate the real figure. On average we think 60% of working age women are in employment when the real figure is 68%.

Rural living: Britons think that many more of us live in rural areas than really do – and by implication underestimate how urban our population is. On average, the public guess that 30% of the population lives in rural areas, when the actual figure is only 18%.

Internet access: The explosion in internet access we’ve seen over recent years is well documented, but even so Britons slightly underestimate how widespread it is. On average, we guess that eight in ten (81%) of us have access to the internet at home through a computer or mobile device, when the actual figure is 90%.

Another $64K question: when they write “the actual figure is …”, is it? Is it actually, actually?

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