According to a new poll by YouGov, the British public think various minority groups make up a far larger percentage of the population that they really do. Is it because minorities are so over-represented in the mainstream media? The Mail on Sunday has more.
When 1,800 people were asked by pollster YouGov how many people were transgender, for instance, they thought it was about 5% of the population.
In reality, between 0.3% and 0.7% identify as a different gender from their biological sex – the gap between the estimate and the reality appearing to show how the transgender rights debate has skewed perceptions.
While most Britons are white and heterosexual, the poll found many believe the U.K. is made up of far more racial, religious and sexual minorities than it actually is. When the survey asked what proportion of adults was white, the median answer was 65% – yet the true figure is 87%.
And while official figures show that black Britons make up about 3% of the population, those questioned estimated the proportion at 20%. Britons believed about 15% of the population is Muslim, against the true figure of about 4%, and they estimated the Jewish community stood at 10% when it is one-twentieth that size.
The public also hugely overestimates the number of vegans and vegetarians – suggesting about 20% refuse to eat animal products, when it is just 4%. Results of the survey, commissioned by the Common Sense Campaign, have been used to gauge the accuracy of minority representation in the media. Those surveyed were asked 16 questions to work out the overall perception of the make-up of the U.K.
Tory MP Sir John Hayes said: “This distorted impression created by much of the broadcast and online media is so out of tune with the facts as to befuddle people about the true character of Britain. There are, of course, all sorts of minority groups that deserve our respect and regard.
“The overwhelming majority of British people are drawn from a small number of groups. Media preoccupations with minorities are skewing the facts”
The poll revealed that the public thinks 10% of people are bisexual and 15% are gay or lesbian. The true figures, official statistics say, are 1.3% and 1.8% respectively.
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