The folks at More in Common just released the results of a study that “explores how Americans tend to have a distorted understanding of people on the other side of the aisle, what causes it, and why it matters.” They call it the Perception Gap, and it’s…not encouraging.
On staying “informed”:
You might think that people who regularly read the news are more informed about their political opponents. In fact, the opposite is the case. We found that the more news people consumed, the larger their Perception Gap. People who said they read the news “most of the time” were nearly three times more distorted in their perceptions than those who said they read the news “only now and then.” We can’t prove that one causes the other, but these results suggest that rather than making Americans better informed, media coverage is now feeding our misperceptions.
Education is intended to make us better informed about the world, so we’d expect that the more educated you become, the more you understand what other Americans think. In fact, the more educated a person is, the worse their Perception Gap – with one critical exception. This trend only holds true for Democrats, not Republicans. In other words, while Republicans’ misperceptions of Democrats do not improve with higher levels of education, Democrats’ understanding of Republicans actually gets worse with every additional degree they earn. This effect is so strong that Democrats without a high school diploma are three times more accurate than those with a postgraduate degree.
Youre gonna want to read the whole thing.