Research by polling firm Ipsos has revealed that the UK population is consistently wrong about many of the social issues that face the country.

In its online study, Perils of Perception, Ipsos shows that the British public overestimates the scale of problems with crime, terrorism and immigration on a frequent basis.

Despite this, the UK public managed to break into the top 10 most accurate nations. Sweden, Denmark and Norway made up the top three. South Africa was the most frequently wrong in the questionnaire of 38 countries.

The survey took responses from more than 29,000 people worldwide, including 1,000 Britons.

According to Ipsos managing director Bobby Duffy, media coverage amplifies negative messages. Basic issues with maths and cultural misconceptions are also to blame for numerous incorrect responses.

"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.

"There are multiple reasons for these errors – from our struggle with maths and proportions, to media and political coverage of issues, to social psychology explanations of our mental shortcuts or biases," he said.

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