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Revealed: Five things Scots get wrong about Scotland

Many people are wrong about immigration, teenage pregnancy and obesity, a survey says.

The number of immigrants living in Scotland is far lower than most people believe, while obesity is much higher, according to a new survey.

The poll from Ipsos MORI identifies six common misconceptions held by Scots.

It covers topics including immigration, teenage pregnancy and mental health.

Teenage pregnancy

We believe eight times as many women and girls under the age of 19 get pregnant each year than actually do.

The average estimate was 24%, while the real percentage is 3.2%.

Immigration

We think immigrants make up a much larger proportion of the population than they do.

The average guess was that 25% of people living in Scotland were born outside the UK, but the actual figure is 7%.

Obesity

We significantly underestimate the proportion of Scots who are overweight or obese.

The average estimate was 46 out of 100, while the real number is 65 in 100.

People in almost every country surveyed by Ipsos MORI overestimate this number.

Mental health

We think twice as many adults in Scotland have depression than actually do.

On average survey participants guessed 41 in 100 people suffer from one or more symptoms of depression, but the figure is actually 19 in 100.

Younger people were more likely to overestimate this, Ipsos MORI found.

Taxation

We also overestimate the number of people in Scotland who are high earners.

The average guess was that 29% of Scots were liable to pay the higher or additional rates of income tax, but the actual figure is 8%.

'We are often most incorrect on issues that are widely discussed in the media or highlighted as challenges.'
Ipsos MORI managing director Emily Gray

Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos MORI in Scotland, said media coverage plays a part shaping public perceptions.

"We know from previous studies that our misperceptions are partly because we overestimate what we worry about: the more we see coverage of an issue, the more prevalent we think it is," she explained.

"We are often most incorrect on issues that are widely discussed in the media or highlighted as challenges facing our society, such as teenage pregnancy, immigration and mental health.

"There are multiple reasons for these errors - from our struggle with maths and proportions, to media coverage of issues, to social psychology explanations of our mental shortcuts or biases.

"We also underestimate key challenges such as obesity. We are perhaps not as worried as we should be, given the extent to which the Scottish population is overweight."

Ipsos MORI carried out 1008 interviews over the phone with people living in Scotland between November 27 and December 5. The results of the survey were weighted by age, sex, employment, region and education to match the general population.

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