Super Cities №218—When Extreme Wrongness Reigns

Brendan Hart

Imagine thinking that every other Democrat you meet is unpatriotic – or that every other Republican you meet is insensitive to racism.

A new study asked 2000+ Americans what they believed and what they thought people on the other political side believed.

The "Perception Gap" findings are stark:

"Democrats and Republicans imagine that almost twice as many people on the other side hold extreme views than they really do."

Other striking takeaways:

  • Extreme people are most inaccurate. Both "progressive activists" and "devoted conservatives" have a plus-thirty (30%+) perception gap.
  • Media makes people wrong. People who consume media "most of the time" have a perception gap 3x those who consume media "only now and then."
  • Not all media is the same; cable and internet news are the worst. People who consume Breitbart News have the highest perception gap (+15%); on the other end of the spectrum, people who consume non-cable news – namely ABC, NBC, and CBS – have a negative perception gap.
  • Well-educated Democrats are extreme projectors. Education doesn't make Republicans more accurate, but education makes Democrats less accurate – "Democrats without a high school diploma are three times more accurate than those with a postgraduate degree."

Aristotle once wrote that virtue is the middle point between two extremes.

Twenty-five hundred years later, too many Americans assume that people on the other side of politics lack virtue.

As always, projection says more about its launcher than its target.

You've successfully subscribed to Super Cities
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Great! You've successfully signed up.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.