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    Shock Horror! Research Reveals Life's Not That Bad, People Just Worry Too Much

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    People around the world worry too much and "get a lot wrong," when it comes to knowing about global issues and what's really happening in their neighborhood.

    A new report: The Perils of Perception 2017 published by Ipsos MORI examines the gap between perception and reality and why so many people around the world are so wrong about the basic facts that concern their lives.

    More importantly, the survey suggests things aren't as bad as they seem. Murder rates aren't as high as people perceive, the number of terrorist related deaths aren't as prevalent and neither are teenage pregnancy rates.

    People generally guess that 20 percent of young women and girls give birth each year — when the reality is that it's just two percent.

    Russia is wrongly perceived to be the booziest nation in the world, very few people surveyed thought it was Belgium, which is the highest alcohol drinking nation, the survey suggests.

    The report found that only seven percent of people think the murder rate is lower in their country than it was in the year 2000, however results reveal that it's significantly down in most countries.

    The perception that terrorist attacks occur more frequently than they actually do is revealed in the report with only 19 percent predicting terror related deaths are lower than they were 15 or even 30 years ago.

    In Britain, people think others are more religious and spiritual than they are. Britons think 45 percent of people believe in heaven and 38 percent believe in hell.

    However the survey reveals only 32 percent believe in heaven and 21 percent think there is a hell.

    Why the Negativity?

    "Across all 38 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 deaths from terrorism, murder rates, immigration and teenage pregnancy," Bobby Duffy, managing director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute said.

    As for why people are so negative, Duffy says it's "our struggle with maths and proportions, to media and political coverage of issues, to social psychology explanations of our mental shortcuts or biases." 

    Essentially, it's because "we overestimate what we worry about: the more we see coverage of an issue, the more prevalent we think it is, especially if that coverage is frightening or threatening."

    "Our brains process negative information differently — it sticks with us and affects how we see realities," Mr. Duffy said.

    Almost 30,000 people contributed to the survey across 30 countries between September and October 2017.

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    Tags:
    society, statistics, fear, stress, shock, Ipsos, Russia, United Kingdom, Belgium
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