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Crossing Divides: Do you live in a social bubble?


Are your friends just like you, or do opposites attract in your world?

We asked people in an international poll how they felt about their choice of friends.

See how you compare in our interactive quiz:

The results of the survey, conducted among people with internet access across 27 countries, suggested respondents felt their social circles to be much more diverse than is generally recognised by academics.

Read more about the results of the research.

“The research shows that people like to remain optimistic, they like to feel they are diverse and tolerant,” says Ipsos Mori’s Glenn Gottfried, who oversaw the fieldwork.

“It is a very positive finding, even if… we may not do as much as we think we should to escape the ‘social bubble’ we live in.”

Note on quiz methodology

The answers to each survey question are categorised according to where they fit on a spectrum between comparative isolation from people with different backgrounds and points of view to strong connections with them.

The result assigned at the end of the quiz is based on an aggregation of the position on the spectrum for each answer given, so people who click the most socially isolated answer for each question will end up in the “bubbling over” category, and those clicking the opposite answers will get “bubble free”, with middling answers steering readers towards the corresponding middling categories.

But the categories at the end of the quiz are defined by the responses people gave to the survey, rather than any arbitrary definition of what it means to be in a social bubble.

So, if an answer corresponds to one end of the spectrum but was also a common response in the survey, then this will steer the reader towards the relevant category less than if it were an unusual survey response.

For example, when asked whether it was “important to listen to people who are different” from themselves, many people in the survey sample answered “very much” – in fact this was the most common answer. Therefore answering this way in the quiz would mean that a reader would still be heading towards the “bubble free” category, but to a lesser extent than the opposite answer (“not at all”) would steer a reader towards the “bubbling over” category.

BBC Crossing Divides

A season of stories about bringing people together in a fragmented world.



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