One Nation, Totally Confused

Common misconceptions about our fellow Americans

May 2022

Script

This video is part of our Kite & Key Shorts series—easy to understand...but hard to forget.

 

How well do you know your fellow Americans? Chances are … not as well as you think. Researchers asked Americans to guess how many people fell into various groups, and … they didn’t do so hot.

Americans guessed that 30% of their countrymen are vegan.i The real proportion? Just 5%. Respondents estimated 20% of Americans had a household income over $1 million … when, in reality, the proportion is less than 1%. When asked what percentage of Americans live in New York City, the respondents said 30%. The actual number: 3%.

Americans fall just as short at guessing what their fellow citizens believe. When pollsters asked them to estimate how much public opinion has changed over the years … the respondents got almost everything wrong.ii

They assumed that about 50% of Americans have consistently opposed immigration. Actually, 75% of Americans say immigrants strengthen the U.S., three times higher than in the mid-90s. Americans guessed that somewhere between 1/4  and 1/3 of the country still opposes interracial marriage … when the actual approval rate for interracial marriage is 94%.iii They also thought that more than half of Americans were “very interested in politics” … when the real number is less than 25%.

So, if you really want to understand the country, you may want to spend less time with the news … and more time with your neighbors.

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  1. Americans consistently think large demographic groups are smaller than they are, and vice versa.
  2. Americans frequently misjudge how much public opinion has changed over the years.
  3. The belief that immigrants make the country stronger has nearly tripled since the mid-1990s.

Sources

  1. "​​From Millionaires to Muslims, Small Subgroups of the Population Seem Much Larger to Many Americans" (Taylor Orth) – YouGovAmerica
  2. "Widespread Misperceptions of Long-Term Attitude Change" (Adam M. Mastroianni and Jason Dana) – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  3. “U.S. Approval of Interracial Marriage at New High of 94%” (Justin McCarthy) – Gallup

Shownotes

SOUND: Coco & the Squirrel (The Texas Gypsies)

FOOTAGE: Miss Teen USA 1983 Results

CITED SOURCES AND NEWS OUTLETS ARE NOT AFFILIATED WITH AND HAVE NOT ENDORSED OR SPONSORED ANY PORTION OF THIS PRODUCTION.

Sources

  1. YouGovAmerica
    "​​From Millionaires to Muslims, Small Subgroups of the Population Seem Much Larger to Many Americans" (Taylor Orth) 
  2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    "Widespread Misperceptions of Long-Term Attitude Change" (Adam M. Mastroianni and Jason Dana) 
  3. Gallup 
    “U.S. Approval of Interracial Marriage at New High of 94%” (Justin McCarthy)

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