I am sure you know that absolutely frustrating feeling when you are having a discussion with another person and you know you are right, but the other side just won’t give in. It’s like, how can they not hear what I am saying? I am even backing up my argument with facts! Can’t they see that they are flat-out wrong? I know this feeling all too well. But has anyone stopped to wonder if the other side is feeling the exact same way as you because they truly believe they also have facts on their side? Perhaps you are the one in the wrong, but you just won’t admit it… Maybe it’s time to fact-check ourselves.
I feel like most people argue and do not accept being wrong, so I started to wonder if facts really play a big role in most people’s day to day conversations. In using the GroupSolver® platform, we were able to reach a sample of 104 respondents to uncover how they feel. What I found seems to be even more intriguing than what I expected.
Importance of facts to ourselves and others
One of the first questions asked was how important facts are when people form their opinions. We found that 89% find that knowing the facts are important to them. However, once we asked how respondents believed knowing the facts to be important to family or close friends, casual connections, and social media connections, we found that the numbers kept decreasing all the way down to 52% (for social media connections). What’s even more interesting is how 66% believed that they consider using facts when forming their opinion more than other people. This shows how people think more highly of themselves in their knowledge and use of facts as compared to others around them. Obviously, we all would like to believe that we are the more intelligent person in an argument.
How important is it to you to know the facts when you form your opinion about something?
Conservatives believe that they are better at spotting fake news
Being good at using facts is one thing, but being able to tell the difference between facts and fake news is a whole other situation. I was curious if people’s “ability” to spot fake news based on their political views. I found that most self-identified liberals felt that they can spot fake news around 50% of the time, whereas most self-identified conservatives said that they can spot fake news 70% of the time. Interesting. Do conservative parties attract people with better ability to spot facts? Or are liberals more humble in admitting that they sometimes get the facts wrong?
What is a fact?
Even with people believing that they are more factual than others, I still wonder if facts even matter to people in the first place. Looking at our current political climate with a president whose adherence to facts is questioned frequently, I’m unsure if we as a society do not understand the definition of the word “fact” or if it just doesn’t play an important role in our decision-making. The most popular responses to our question of what the word fact meant to respondents was that facts are “proven truth” (85% support strength) and “truth that can be confirmed” (81% support strength). Yet, I’m not so sure truth matters if it’s inconvenient to our beliefs.
To me, the word “fact” means…
I once again wanted to see if political views affected people’s response to the same question of what fact means to them. I saw that conservatives tended to response in the likes of: “truth based”, “the truth” and “it means they are basing the answer on proven facts.” On the other hand, liberals answered in the realm of: “based on info they know is true (from a trusted source)”, “the research was done”, and “the truth based on proof”. While it can be agreed that all saw facts as something that is true, I noticed that liberals tended to add ideas such as proof or evidence to their responses more often than conservatives.
Sadly, facts may not even matter to most people
I think that these findings go back to ideas of tribalism. We tend to group ourselves with people who think and act like us, so it’s no surprised that we tend to think better about ourselves as compared to those around us. And it comes to even less of a surprise that we stick together with people we identify with despite any controversy, scandal, or lie that has occurred within that group. It’s nice to have the illusion that we want to be factual beings, but perhaps in this day in age that does not matter to most folks. And, if we are using facts, which we should be, we better be aware of where we are getting our information from. Things are not the way they seem nowadays.
Do you have a customer insight question you would like solved? #FridayInSight has your answer! We’ll design a study, collect data on the GroupSolver® platform, and share with you a free report with our findings. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.