New research has revealed how our perception differs from reality on topics such as age, obesity and immigration
The most inaccurate nations were Mexico and India, according to figures released by Ipsos Mori.
The research asked people about the population of their respective countries, to reveal how people’s perceptions on obesity, old age, immigration and other factors differ from reality.
South Korea and Ireland, on the other hand, were the most accurate at guessing the composition of their population.
According to the figures, many populations overestimate how many immigrants, athiests and rural dwellers there are in the country.
Only two countries – Israel and Saudi Arabia – didn’t overestimate the number of people born overseas.
The difference between the actual proportion and the median response in South Africa, India, Brazil and Argentina was greater than 20 points.
What percentage of people do you think are immigrants?
Every country except Japan and South Korea overestimated the proportion of people that do not affiliate themselves with any religion.
How many people do you think do not affiliate themselves with any religion?
In general, European and Americans performed more accurately.
People in New Zealand were the least accurate of any in the developed countries tested.
The ‘Index of Ignorance’
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Of the 33 countries surveyed, most overestimated the proportion of wealth owned by the richest one per cent.
Proportion of wealth owned by the richest 1%
However, when asked how much wealth should be held by the richest, the responses were closer to the actual levels.
Populations often underestimated the number of overweight people and female politicians.
How many adults do you think are overweight or obese?
Ipsos Mori, which conducted the research, said that there were a number of factors that influenced the level of ignorance in societies. These include media coverage and internet penetration.
Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, said:
“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.”