Self-silencing is when people say what others want rather than what they really believe. It’s also causing false polarization, according to one researcher.
This means that there is more agreement among Americans than in polls using self-silencing respondents. This is important because people’s true views drive social and consumer behavior, not what they say.
Todd Rose, co-founder and president of Populace, which conducted the study, stated that “when we’re misreading our thoughts, it actually causes false Polarization.” It actually damages social trust. It tends to make historical social progress almost impossible.
Rose stated that people are more moderate than they might admit when “being pulled towards a vocal fringe”, whether it’s left or right.
He said that sometimes people will reshape private views to fit with what their group believes.
He said that the gap between stated and real views can have a generational effect because media amplifies perceptions, which then cues young adults. “This generation’s illusions often become the next generation’s private opinion.”
This study has some shocking results for both the left and right.
The study on abortion found that men were less likely to agree privately with the idea of a woman having an abortion and to her doctor (45%) than they would be openly (60%).
The Republicans were also less likely to say Roe V. Wade should not be overturned privately (51%) than they were publicly (64%).
Only 44% of COVID-19 women feel that wearing masks is effective in stopping COVID-19 from spreading, while 63% believe they should have said so.
A staggering four-fold increase in Democrats saying CEOs should be more vocal on social issues (44%) than they actually care (11%).
Americans are generally more supportive of parental control over education (60%) than they are of publicizing it (52%).
This may explain why GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s message on schools attracted swing voters in Virginia last spring, which may explain why GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis (Republican from Florida) supported “parent’s rights” by signing bans on school instruction regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
Axios explains how the survey works.
The survey asked respondents to choose from traditional polling questions or questions that were based on a list experiment, which gives them a greater sense of anonymity. This allows researchers to determine the gap between what people tell and how they feel privately.
Is it really possible for parents to discuss gender issues from kindergarten through third grade as Florida law requires? About half of parents think so privately, while 63 percent tell pollsters that they are opposed to it.
Concerning the teaching of racism in schools, 63% said privately that they thought it was too important to be taught in public schools. This is much lower than the 80 percent who publicly say this.
According to pollsters, they are often confused by people believing one thing and saying another. They use all manner of tricks to get rid of responses that don’t reflect what the people really think. In recent decades, Americans have become much more knowledgeable about polls. People are now refusing not only to trust polls but also refuse to take part in surveys.
All this has affected our poll-driven politics and could have contributed to our disunity. This is dangerous for the future success of our republic.