The UK massively overestimates the proportion of Muslims in the population.
We think that 1 in 6 people in the UK are Muslim, when the real figure is fewer than one in 20.
And we're not the the only ones who do this.
Most countries surveyed overestimate the Muslim population by a huge amount, as the below chart by Statista shows:
Bobby Duffy, managing director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, London, said:
Across all 40 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 the proportion of our population that are Muslims and wealth inequality. We know from previous studies that this is partly because we over-estimate what we worry about.
There are multiple reasons for these errors – from our struggle with simple maths and proportions, to media coverage of issues, to social psychology explanations of our mental shortcuts or biases. It is also clear from our 'Index of Ignorance' that the countries who tend to do worst have relatively low internet penetrations: given this is an online survey, this will reflect the fact that this more middle-class and connected population think the rest of their countries are more like them than they really are.
For the full data, see the chart below:
We think 15 per cent of the population are Muslim, when actually only 4.8 per cent are. That's less than a third of our guess.
You can see how the numbers are broken down in a different way here: