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Encyclopedia of Social Psychology

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Encyclopedia of Social Psychology

Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs

Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Pluralistic Ignorance

Deborah A. Prentice

Pluralistic ignorance occurs when people erroneously infer that they feel differently from their peers, even though they are behaving similarly. As one example, imagine the following scenario: You are sitting in a large lecture hall listening to an especially complicated lecture. After many minutes of incomprehensible material, the lecturer pauses and asks if there are any questions. No hands go up. You look around the room. Could these people really understand what the lecturer is talking about? You yourself are completely lost. Your fear of looking stupid keeps you from raising your hand, but as you look around the room at your impassive classmates, you interpret their similar behavior differently: You take their failure to raise their hands as a sign that they understand the lecture, that they genuinely have no questions. These different assumptions you make about the causes of your own behavior and the causes of your classmates' ...

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