Underestimating how people are... Lame.

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drinkingThis chapter in Smarter than you Think was really enlightening for me. I had never thought about society like Thompson had before. The idea of pluralistic ignorance is essentially people underestimating the similarities they share (socially) with the people around them. My favorite example from the book was the scenario with binge drinking on college campuses in the 90’s. This might just be because I’m in college and can therefore identify with this situation the most out of all the examples given, but I thought it was fascinating. The situation was the students believed other students were drinking more on average than they actually were. This was due to pluralistic ignorance, because they didn’t know the internal dialogues of the people around them. When one student thought his/her friends were drinking a lot of alcohol, that student would drink a lot to try and keep up. Really though, the student was being unhealthy and exceeding what his/her friends drank. To read more about this scenario click here!

futuramaThis chapter “Connected Society” addresses the topic of pluralistic ignorance with a skeptical eye. This chapter shows how pluralistic ignorance is quickly becoming less of a problem, due to the amassing social media fad. People have more access to the thoughts of the people around them, which allows for change to happen at a more rapid pace. Change is easier to spread and easier to back now that we have the world at our finger tips. The chapter also raises a problem with online media being so accessible: it stops real action from happening. Thompson identifies the worry that people will just post/blog/tweet etc… about problems rather than actually acting on behalf of them. I think sharing peoples’ opinions on social media is something we could do to address the problem of pluralistic ignorance. Honestly, I feel like just being honest in our writing will do a world of good with this topic in mind. Allowing people into our true lives (not playing up posts or posing for pictures) would help, I think. This can include sharing work, collaborative readings, even collaborative posts.


ald_3's picture

Larissa - I really enjoyed

Larissa - I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this chapter. I agree - it's fascinating to see pluralistic ignorance at work with an example that is so accessible to us. I've always found the "problem of other minds" to be a really interesting topic; it's difficult to understand what the human experience is like for other people because we can't experience their thoughts, see the world through their eyes, etc. I think your suggestion about letting people into our lives in a real way, not just through virtual means, is a great start in really understanding our fellow humans. Great post - thanks for sharing!

laurenew's picture

Loved your insight Larissa!

Great post! I agree, the example of binge drinking on college campuses definitely resonates with us as college students. I guess it's a perfect example of the dangers of keeping your "internal dialogue" to yourself just to fit in with the norm, but it's hard to find someone willing to go against it. Luckily the Internet offers a forum for sharing thoughts and ideas, and allowing collaboration. Hopefully this won't translate into a lot of talk and no action like Thompson worries about.