Pluralistic Ignorance

Nov 22 / Network Capital
Never blindly support a group decision simply because everyone around you seems to agree. Groups where people secretly disagree but collectively comply are inherently counterproductive. To avoid this, create a safe environment for conversation, expect people to disagree and actively listen for feedback.

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Smoking culture in many workplaces (or even colleges), is a typical example of Pluralistic Ignorance. Personally, many individuals, if not all, may not like smoking. They recognize its detrimental impact on their health. Yet collectively, as an organization, they all continue to smoke to be a part of the informal discussions and bonding exercise, and to avoid being outcasted.

Pluralistic Ignorance is a social collective bias that limits the ability of the individual to truly express themselves.

It is a form of peer-pressure as well as group ignorance. Along with creating a toxic culture, Pluralistic Ignorance also leads to deleterious social con- sequences. A study by Kyushu University, Japan, shows the correlation between Pluralistic Ignorance and paternity leave. The research examined the attitudes and actions of Japanese male employees between the ages of 20 and 40 towards paternity leaves. Results of the study demonstrate that male employees negatively overestimate the attitudes of other men towards paternity leave. Rather the men who had a relatively more positive outlook towards paternity leave were the ones who were more likely not to take the leave.

While the research does not include solutions to Pluralistic Ignorance, it does indicate the need for creating cultures conducive to dialogue, feedback and disagreement, to limit the social fallouts of this collective bias.