The ultimate emoticon? Some topical research results

As an addendum to the recent post on ‘that’ jubilee and the embedded symbolism of flags, it was interesting to come across a summary of research carried out by the University of Strathclyde. [1]

St. Andrew Saltire Scotland


Over 10,000 people living in England or Scotland completed an online survey ‘Mood of the Nation’, which asked questions about national identity and the state of the economy. [2]

Unknown to the participants, they were divided into three groups and presented with a different background flag as they completed the survey.

One group was allocated the Union Flag, the second either the St George’s cross or the St. Andrew’s Saltire depending on where they lived, and the third a neutral colour only.

The overall results – and the organisers of the survey point out these cannot be taken as representative – showed that those exposed to the Saltire were more negative in their answers than those who ‘subconsciously’ viewed the Union Flag (note: the press article calls it “Union Jack!”).

Interpretation of the results suggests that the respondents felt “less in control” of their home nation’s economy or more hard done by as a group. Thus, they were “more anxious” about the economy when they thought of themselves as English or Scottish, rather than as British.

The survey also suggested that exposure to the Union Jack increased a sense of pride in being English rather than British, among people south of the Border.

No doubt, we can expect these tentative findings to be used as propaganda in forthcoming months, as the battle over possible Scottish independence warms up. When/if the full results are published, I’ll post further information.

[1]: University of Strathclyde survey

[2]; Daily Telegraph


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