Humans and other animals

Pluralistic ignorance

Ever found yourself at odds with what you thought was the majority opinion? There’s a name for that: pluralistic ignorance.

A phenomenon I’ve often felt to be true, so it’s nice to have a name for it. The entire wine industry probably hangs on this kind of bullshit, and I suspect more important issues too, like anti-immigration hostility and austerity politics.

The term, coined in 1931 by psychologists Daniel Katz and Floyd Allport, describes the surprisingly common situation in which individual members of a group privately believe one thing, but think that everyone else in the group believes the opposite.

Katz and Allport came up with the term when their research revealed that students at Syracuse University generally didn’t object to the notion of allowing minorities into then-segregated frat houses and dorms, but were convinced their peers wouldn’t accept such a multicultural move.

Researchers have found similar syndromes at work in everything from vegetarian co-op members’ views of dietary rules to witch hunts in colonial Massachusetts.
Alone With Everyone Else – Pacific Standard


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