Researchers Test Public's Knowledge of Religious Symbols, News-Related Images

Results from a Pew Research Center study released Tuesday show that Americans are more likely to correctly identify the Star of David as being associated with Judaism than they are to associate Twitter's logo with the social media website.

The survey was part of the center's News IQ quiz, which is conducted at least biannually, and it tested the news and political knowledge of 1,041 American adults. For the second time in the quiz series' history, researchers asked questions associated with visual images – symbols, pictures, maps and graphs.

Those surveyed correctly identified the Star of David more than any other image in the quiz, with 87 percent of participants correctly associating it with Judaism and picking it out of a group of four religious symbols.

Another five percent incorrectly said the Jewish symbol is the cross, which is typically associated with Christianity; four percent said it is the om, which is associated with Hinduism; two percent said it is the crescent and star, which is associated with Islam and five percent gave no answer.

In contrast to the identifiable Star of David, less than half (42 percent) of Americans correctly identified the crescent and star as a symbol for Islam during a separate Pew study conducted in October 2011.

Nearly 8-in-10 respondents (79 percent) correctly identified Twitter's logo in the News IQ quiz, and 69 percent of correctly identified the Euro currency symbol.

Three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans also correctly labeled a map of the U.S. which highlighted the states President Barack Obama won during the 2012 election, and 60 percent identified Washington as a state that legalized gay marriage from a group of four states .

The quiz also asked participants to correctly match the photographs of politicians to either their name or job title based on their photographs. The most widely recognized politicians by name in the survey were U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (73 percent) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (73 percent).

People were somewhat less likely to identify John Kerry as the then-nominee for Secretary of State (62 percent correct) from a lineup of four politicians, or Eric Holder as the Attorney General (55 percent) based on his photograph.

The politician with the lowest recognition was Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, with only 43 percent of respondents correctly identifying her out of a group of four women.

The study revealed significant differences in news-related knowledge based on age and education level, while political affiliation seemed to have little impact on what people knew.

Young people, ages 18 to 29, were far more likely than older people, ages 50 and up, to correctly identify the Twitter logo and the symbol for Euro currency, but were less likely than older people to correctly identify political figures.

College graduates answered correctly more often than those with a high school diploma or lower on every question on the quiz. Those with a high school diploma or lower correctly answered 7.3 out of 13 questions on average, while those with a college degree answered 10.1 correctly on average.

The Pew Research Center's News IQ quizzes have been conducted regularly since 2007.