NEWS10 November 2017

UK adults prefer to seek their own information, finds study

Media News Public Sector Trends UK

UK – People are increasingly becoming their own experts, with a lack of trust in the way information is communicated, according to new research from Opinium.

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The ‘Crossed Wires’ report found that 80% of UK adults surveyed want to find out information for themselves rather than trusting the views of others, while 86% use the internet to check information.

While almost half of respondents ( 43%) see statistics as an accurate way to understand the world, the report suggests a lack of trust in the way figures are communicated; two-thirds ( 69%) feel stats can be misrepresented. The report also found that a third ( 32%) of respondents believe that experienced researchers can be trusted to tell the truth.

Based on a survey of 2,017 UK adults from Opinium’s panel, 54 behavioural and attitudinal statements were grouped across five broad themes to assess participants’ attitude to different aspects of communication: visual communication, scepticism, personal connections, storytelling, and numbers and statistics.

The five consumer communication ‘tribes’ identified by the report – ‘snappy socialisers’ ( 15%), ‘true-world traditionalists’ ( 24%), ‘confident calculators’ ( 20%), ‘self-reliant sceptics’ ( 14%), ‘breezy believers' ( 26%) - often display varied contrasts. 

For instance, 77% of ‘confident calculators’ believe statistics are very important for understanding the world accurately, compared to 17% of ‘self-reliant sceptics'.

Additionally, responding to the statement ‘Numbers and charts don't reflect the way I see the world', three out of five groups saw majority agreement – ‘true-world traditionalists’ ( 64%), ‘self-reliant sceptics’ ( 69%) and ‘breezy believers’ ( 58%).  

Meanwhile, 47% of ‘breezy believers’ say they tend to form opinions quickly based on headlines they read online, compared to only 8% of ‘self-reliant sceptics'. 

Josh Glendinning, primary author of the report, said: “New technologies and platforms make it increasingly apparent that we’re defined not only by what we say, but how we say it.

“The benefits of tailoring information to one group could be completely cancelled out if the same approach is applied to a different population. Similarly, when these tribes come into contact with one another, the potential for miscommunication and mistrust is high, making a truly national conversation all the more difficult."