Why Does Consensus Often Lead to False Positives?

By Randy Milanovic


One of the interesting things I’ve learned studying behaviour and unconscious bias in marketing is that most people tend to think of themselves as being average when it suits them, but extraordinary when it helps their self-esteem. And, because all of this happens on a subconscious level, we do it without even realizing it.

For instance, there is a good chance that unless you’re some kind of staunch conservative or borderline revolutionary, you tend to think that other people share your overall point of view on a lot of different topics.

Start at the beginning of this series on Biases in marketing and business.

You may consider yourself to be “mainstream” when it comes to politics, social views, design style, etc., even if you see Twiter polls and marketing surveys that suggest your opinions are not fully meshing with those of society at large.

The clinical term for this is false consensus effect. It essentially means that we tend to think other people see things our way, even when there isn’t much evidence to support that notion.

For an easy example of this principle in action, think of that distant relative you have who is always ready to shove their worldview down your throat. In your mind, their perspective is pretty extreme.

From inside their own heads, though, what they are telling you is essentially obvious – everyone knows that what they’re saying is true, and would have to agree if they thought about it for even a moment.

andy crestodinaAndy Crestodina
Veteran Marketer, Orbit Media

It’s easier than ever for us to retreat into ideological bubbles than in any other time in history.

Once we’re in those ideological bubbles, we find people who think the way we do, creating a feedback loop. I truly believe that this more than anything else explains the insanity around national politics in the US.

From a more educated perspective, these relatives aren’t as delusional as some might think. They are simply falling into the trap of overestimating the commonness of their own experiences and point of view.

They think and believe what they think and believe based on the things that have happened to them, or the information they’ve been exposed to. It’s only natural for them to assume others have had similar interactions that would reinforce the same conclusions.

Unfortunately, you are probably just as susceptible to false consensus effect as your eccentric aunt and uncle are. It’s part of our collective human mental makeup.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get past it, though. It just means you have to be a little more diligent about projecting the things you “know” onto the world around you.

Here are a few tips to help you do exactly that…

Break Out of the Bias Bubble

One aspect of modern life that is concerning to sociologists is that it’s easier than ever for us to retreat into ideological bubbles than in any other time in history.

We can live big portions of our lives, online and off, surrounded by others who mirror our own thoughts Go to the full article.

Source:: Business2Community