Ipsos Mori poll reveals the countries and the most and least confirmed about current affairs
Ipsos Mori poll reveals the countries and the most and least confirmed about current affairs Ipsos Mori

A eye-catching new poll reveals which nationalities are the most clueless about what is happening on their own doorstep.

According to a brand new Ipsos Mori 'ignorance index' it is Italians who are most incorrect about issues such as immigration, unemployment, and the rate of teen pregnancy.

Top of the class were Swedes who were most clued up about social issues and demographic trends.

There was good news for Great Britain, which came in the top third of most well informed countries.

The United States fared badly in the survey of 14 developed countries, being the second most ignorant of reality.

Researchers found that on average, Americans surveyed think 24% of US girls aged 15-19 give birth to babies every year, whereas the correct figure is 3%.

Here is the league table of ignorance in descending order.

The index of general ignorance by Ipsos Mori
The index of general ignorance by Ipsos Mori Ipsos Mori

One universal trend in the figures was a misconception among the population about the number of Muslims living in their country. As an average across the surveyed countries, respondents thought 16% of the population was Muslim, whereas the correct average is only 3%.

The unemployment rate was also overestimated by a factor of three. The average guess was 30%, in contrast to the actual rate of 9%. Italians were most misinformed on this point, believing nearly half the population was jobless.

Ipsos Mori surveyed almost 12,000 people aged between 16- and 64-years-old, and said the survey highlighted the need for people to be informed about their society when making decisions like voting intention.

Bobby Duffy, Ipsos' social research chief said: "These misperceptions present clear issues for informed public debate and policy-making. For example, public priorities may well be different if we had a clearer view of the scale of immigration and the real incidence of teenage mothers.

People also under-estimate "positive" behaviours such as voting, which may be important if people think it is more "normal" not to vote than it actually is.

"This is the first international study to look at these misperceptions across a range of issues and countries – and it shows the British are far from alone in being wrong. In fact we're among the better informed countries – but there are still huge gaps between perceptions and reality on a number of key issues in Britain," said Duffy.

You can test your own level of ignorance by taking the Perils of Perception Quiz.