I try to avoid the subject by and large in my private life, when dealing with friendship. But a Yahoo research project created a Facebook app, Friend Sense, to solve two empirical paradoxes:

The first paradox is the widespread perception among Americans that the US is a politically polarized country, when in fact numerous surveys indicate that Americans are surprisingly difficult to classify into simple categories. Many people, for example, see the country as divided into “red” states and “blue” states, but research shows that most Americans are neither consistently “liberal” nor “conservative.” In fact, among self-declared Republicans, 85% take a non-conservative stance on abortion, affirmative action, or government support for health insurance. Similar counter-intuitive results can be found among self-declared Democrats.

The second paradox is that people also tend to think that their friends’ beliefs are more similar to their own than they actually aresuggesting that people don’t know their friends as well as they think they do.

(Hat tip: The Monkey Cage)

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