The study shows that the average UK consumer believes they receive 6.2 items of direct mail per week when the actual figure is 3.3 items, half the perceived number.
Men are worse than women in overestimating the figure they receive, believing they get 6.4 items when in reality the number is 3.1. Women thought they got six items instead of the actual 3.7 pieces.
Jo Howard-Brown, the DMIS managing director, said: "The research highlights a perennial problem for direct mail - perception against reality. Our research has always shown that perceptions of receipt are way off the mark. People always overestimate their direct mail receipt by about 50 per cent."
However, Howard-Brown doesn't think that this has any adverse affect on the industry. "The consumer's knee-jerk reaction is that they get loads of direct mail but what happens in the real world, not what they think happens, influences how they respond to direct mail," she said.
The perceived figures are from from the 2003 consumer trends survey, while the actual mail receipt figures are from the Royal Mail consumer panel for the same period.