Americans Are Silenced In Record Numbers, New Study Reveals: Here’s What It Means
If you’ve ever found yourself hiding your true opinion just to avoid ruffling your feathers, you’re not alone, according to new research from think tank Populace.
The researchers wanted to know how widespread self-silence, or preference falsification, is – defined as saying what you think others want to hear rather than what you really believe.
What they found was a tendency for people of all demographics to succumb to social pressure to have the “right” opinion when it comes to hot-button issues like abortion, mask-wearing and the discussion of gender identity in schools, despite their true feelings.
On the issue of abortion, the study found that men are not as supportive as they might publicly proclaim.
Privately, only 45% of men agreed that the decision to have an abortion should be left to the woman and her doctor, compared to 60% who agreed publicly.
On the statement that abortion should be legal in most cases, only 48% of men agreed privately, compared to 52% who agreed publicly, according to the study.
When it comes to mask-wearing, 59% of Americans publicly agree that wearing a mask was an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19, but only 47% hold that view privately, said researchers.
The largest gaps between private and public opinion were found among 30-44 year olds regarding education.
The study found that although a majority (74%) of this age group privately believe that parents should have more say in what children learn in the classroom, only 48% were willing to do so. say publicly.
When discussing gender identity at school, 60% of this age group publicly stated that it was inappropriate for K-3 students. Privately, however, only 40% agreed.
The researchers also found that 33% of people think public schools focus too much on racism in the United States, compared to 43% who said so publicly.
Hispanics and Independents were the least comfortable sharing their true beliefs publicly, the study found, with double-digit gaps between what they say and what they believe on 14 out of 25 topics.
The researchers said the tendency for people to publicly conceal their true positions on key issues is particularly troubling because of the threat it can pose to individual freedoms and democratic autonomy.
The survey included 3,334 American adults and was conducted for Populace by YouGov between Monday, May 23 and Wednesday, June 8.
Click here to read Populace’s full report.
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