A recent survey conducted by global research company Ipsos – Perils of Perception 2015 – found that those surveyed greatly underestimated the number of people in Australia who consider themselves religious.
In response to the question ‘Out of every 100 people, about how many do you think do not affiliate themselves with any religion?’ the average response was 45. In fact, only 24 percent of the population consider themselves atheist or agnostic – 76 out of every 100 people in Australia are affiliated with a religious organisation.
The question was one of 33 covering issues from women’s representation in parliament to obesity levels in the population.
The annual Ipsos survey highlights how popular perceptions are often at odds with reality. From 25,556 interviews conducted in 33 countries, each year Ipsos releases an ‘Index of Ignorance’ranking countries in order of most ignorant to least. This year, Australia ranks as the 15th most ignorant country.
While not as ignorant as Great Britain (13th), it would seem Americans know more about their fellow citizens, coming nine places ahead of Australia. South Korea took our first place for the most accurate perception of society, followed closely by Ireland.
Bobby Duffy is the managing director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute. He said the results indicate that often we have the facts wrong which can lead to us focussing more on issues than we need to, so increasing the perception because of the increased interest.
“Across all 33 countries in the study, each population gets a lot wrong,” Mr Duffy said.
“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.”
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