Singapore listed as 8th most ignorant country in research by Ipsos MORI

The latest research by Ipsos MORI, the second largest market research organisation in the United Kingdom, places Singapore on the 8th most ignorant countries out of 40 countries in the world.

The latest Ipsos Perils of Perception survey highlights how wrong the public across 40 countries are about key global issues and features of the population in their country.

The key patterns are:

  • Most countries think their population is much more Muslim than it actually is – and that the Muslim population is increasing at an incredible rate.
  • All countries think their population is less happy than they actually say they are.
  • Most countries are more tolerant on homosexuality, abortion and pre-marital sex than they think they are.
  • And nearly all countries think wealth is more evenly distributed than it actually is.

Looking across the five questions on factual realities, there are clear patterns in which countries have a more accurate view of their countries. To capture this, they have calculated the Ipsos “Index of Ignorance”, as shown in the table below.

India receives the “honour” of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues with China and the US also high up the list. The Netherlands are the most accurate, followed by Great Britain, with South Korea in third.

What is interesting is that Singaporeans feel that people in general, feel less happier than what they have said themselves to be.

Respondents were first asked the question, “Taking all things together, would you say you are: Very happy, Rather happy, Not very happy, Not at all happy, and Don’t know.”

Following that, the respondent was then asked, “When asked in a survey in [country], what percentage of people do you think said that, taking all things together, they are very happy or rather happy?”

The results show that Singapore scored a 46% difference from their own happiness and others.

Source : IPSOS-MORI.
Source : Ipsos-MORI.

Singaporeans also do not have the idea of how many people actually do not own a house.

Source : IPSOS-MORI.
Source : Ipsos-MORI.

Singapore had the lowest score when it comes to underestimating the number of people in the country.

Source : IPSOS-MORI.
Source : Ipsos-MORI.

Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, London, said, “Across all 40 countries in the study, each population gets a lot wrong. We are often most incorrect on factors that are widely discussed in the media, such as the proportion of our population that are Muslims and wealth inequality. We know from previous studies that this is partly because we over-estimate what we worry about.”

“But in this new study we also show that we’re often unduly pessimistic about how happy people are and our tolerance on controversial issues such as homosexuality, sex before marriage and abortion. In many countries, particularly in the West, we have a picture of our population that is unduly miserable and intolerant. This is important: we know what people think of as the norm is important in affecting their own views and behaviours.”

Also interesting to note that respondents in Singapore were not asked questions about how they perceive homosexuality, abortion and etc because there are no similar surveys conducted on the issue, which raises a particular question about how the social consensus in Singapore on various issues are actually measured in reality.

“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 less likely to own their own home than they actually are. In many countries we have received the message loud and clear that pressure on housing and affordability are serious issues, but we’ve underestimated how many still own their home.”

“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 will reflect the fact that this more middle-class and connected population think the rest of their countries are more like them than they really are,” he said.

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