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What Americans Really Believe

The Day America told the Truth - book cover
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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

A recent survey conducted by YouGov confirms what another famous poll documented decades ago. There has always been a concern among pollsters of whether they are getting accurate responses from Americans when discussing controversial issues.

More than three decades ago, researchers wrote, The Day America Told the Truth: What People Really Believe About Everything That Really Matters. After speaking to the groups about being brutally honest on their responses, they assured the respondents their answers could not be linked to them. The researchers discovered that Americans lie on a regular basis and engage in immoral behavior at a higher percentage than usually reported.

In political polling, this is called the “Bradley effect.” Although the mayor was ahead in the polls, he lost because some voters told pollsters they were undecided or going to vote for him because they didn’t want to say they weren’t voting for the black candidate.

The YouGov researchers found that Americans are “self-silencing” by saying what they think others want to hear rather than what they believe. The pollsters used a mix of traditional polling questions along with other techniques to determine if there was a gap between what people say in polls and what they truly believe.

Men publicly said (60%) that abortion should be left solely to a woman and her doctor but have a different (45%) privately held belief. Less than a majority (44%) of women privately felt wearing masks was effective at stopping COVID spread while a much higher percentage (63%) felt they should say masks were effective. Americans overall are privately (60%) more supportive of parents having more influence over curriculum than proclaim this publicly (52%).

This latest study is a reminder that not all polls accurately measure what Americans truly believe about controversial issues. viewpoints new web version

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