People over-estimate what we worry about and a lot of major issues are underestimated, says MORI poll
GN Bureau | December 7, 2015
World’s largest democracy is the second most ignorant nation in the world. India has been placed at second spot after Mexico in a survey called ‘Peril of perception’ conducted by Ipsos MORI, a London-based market research firm.
The survey, released in the middle of last week, posed questions on issues like inequality, non-religious population, female employment and internet access.
"Mexico and India receive the dubious honour of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues, while South Koreans are the most accurate, followed by the Irish," the survey said. It polled 25,000 people from 33 countries and found that while people "over-estimate what we worry about", a lot of major issues are underestimated.
The rankings of the nations were based on the "Index of Ignorance" which was determined by questions about wealth that the top one per cent own, obesity, non-religious population, immigration, living with parents, female employment, rural living and internet access.
Most Indians "underestimate" how much of their country's wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1 per cent, the survey said, adding that the top 1 per cent actually own an "incredible" 70 per cent of all wealth.
The survey also found that most Indians "hugely overestimate" the proportions of non-religious people in the country to be 33 per cent when the true figure is under 1 per cent.
While Israel significantly underestimates the proportion of female employment (by 29 percentage points), people in countries like India, Mexico, South Africa and Chile all think of more women in work than really are, it said.
India fell in the list of nations which overestimate representation by women in politics.
Countries like Columbia, Russia, India and Brazil all think there is better female representation than there really is, the survey said.
However, the Indian population seriously underestimates the rural population of the country and thinks more people have internet access than in reality.
In India the average guess among online respondents for internet access is 60 per cent - an overestimation of the true picture of 41 percentage points, the survey added.
Bobby Duffy, managing director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, says: “Across all 33 countries in the study, each population gets a lot wrong. We are often most incorrect on factors that are widely discussed in the media or highlighted as challenges facing societies, such as the proportion of young adults still living at home, immigration and wealth inequality. We know from previous studies that this is partly because we over-estimate what we worry about – as well as worrying about the issues we think are widespread.
But we do also underestimate some key challenges such as obesity. In many countries, we’re maybe not as worried as we should be, given the extent to which our populations are overweight.
We also get facts wrong that will make us focus on some issues more than they perhaps deserve: for example, we tend to think our populations are much older than they actually are, and that more people live in rural areas than is really the case.
There are multiple reasons for these errors – from our struggle with simple maths and proportions, to media coverage of issues, to social psychology explanations of our mental shortcuts or biases. It is also clear from our “Index of Ignorance” that the countries who tend to do worst have relatively low internet penetrations: given this is an online survey, this is therefore likely to reflect that this more middle-class and connected population generalise from their own experience rather than consider the much greater variety of circumstances in the full populations of their country.”
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|The Ipsos 'Index of Ignorance' table|
|28||South Korea||Most accurate|
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