Cape Town - Ipsos MORI released its latest Perils of Perception survey of 2016 and South Africa ranks fourth among 40 countries in a study which tested how much people know about their homelands.
The survey covered questions such as what people thought the size of their population was, what proportion of the population was Muslim, what the population of people who said they are happy, what percentage of wealth distribution and the percentage who said homosexuality was morally unacceptable.
Perception really isn't reality, according to infographics put together by Ipsoso.
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According to the survey, most respondents were fairly accurate.
For South Africans, it's a case of hit and miss as most came in too low in guessing our actual population size, calling it at 52 million instead of the 54.96, according to the survey data.
Many counties hugely overestimated the proportion of Muslims in their country, with South Africa, in fact showing the second highest incorrect perception - after France and we all know the issues around religion in this European country - The Burkini ban highlights the rather sensitive topic.
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For SA, the findings show we think 22% of the population are Muslim, when actually only 1.7% are, less than a tenth of our guess.
Ipsos says every country thinks people are much less happy than they think they are. For South Africa the guess was 38% of the population is happy as apposed to the actual 76% of people who said they were happy.
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Wealth owned by the poorest
When asked what percentage of total wealth was owned by the poorest, most people thought that wealth was more evenly distributed than it actually is.
South Africans surveyed had the third highest incorrect perception, thinking 29% of the wealth is owned by the poorest, as opposed to the reality which sees less than a 10th of that at 8%.
On average across these 40 economies, just 15% of total wealth is owned by the bottom 70% – but the average guess is almost twice that, at 29%.
Some countries are incredibly inaccurate: Indians think this group owns 39% of their country’s wealth when the actual figure is just 10%.
The US is also significantly out: Americans think the bottom 70% own 28% of their country’s wealth, when in fact it’s a quarter of that, at 7%.
People were often wrong about their fellow citizens’ attitudes to sex between unmarried couples. People in the Netherlands overestimated it by 29%, though only 3% overestimated it in the US. Only one got it right – Argentina.
South Africans under-estimated the number of people who were not in favour of homosexuality. The survey shows that South Africans thought 52% of the population was accepting 49% of homosexuality, when it seems only 38% actually are," according to the survey.