A recent article in Stanford Magazine highlighted the work of psychologist Richard Lampiere. Back in 1931, Lampiere, a Chinese student of his, and his student’s Chinese wife drove cross-country, visiting 250 hotels and restaurants.
One business refused them service, presumably because of race.
Then Lampiere sent surveys to the businesses they’d visited (plus controls) asking if they served Chinese people. The businesses responded:
235 said NO,
18 said maybe,
and only 2 said YES.
Basically the complete opposite of reality.
Social signalling is cheap; losing actual customers on the ground is expensive.
People today still say whatever they think will gain them approval, though our politics have changed a lot since 1931. For example, 89% of people these days report being willing to marry someone of another race:
but of marriages conducted in 2013, only 12% actually were. By contrast, while a similar number of people said they would be unhappy about a cross-political marriage in their family:
but about 30% of (all) married people (in the 30 states that track party affiliation) are in a cross-ideological marriage.
Likewise, recall that much of the poll data coming out before the 2016 Election showed Hillary Clinton winning and Donald Trump losing.