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Pluralistic Ignorance. February 9, 2006. Class Overview. Continue discussion of norms to address 2 key questions. 1. Do norms influence behavior? If so, how? 2. How do people perceive norms and are their perceptions accurate? Present results from the in-class survey.

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Pluralistic ignorance

Pluralistic Ignorance

February 9, 2006


Class overview
Class Overview

  • Continue discussion of norms to address 2 key questions.

    1. Do norms influence behavior? If so, how?

    2. How do people perceive norms and are their perceptions accurate?

  • Present results from the in-class survey.

  • Take brief survey for class on Tuesday.


1 do norms actually influence behavior
1. Do Norms ACTUALLY influence behavior?

  • Many studies have shown that people do not always follow norms (e.g. littering).

  • Therefore, norms might be a weak predictor of actual behavior.

  • Question: Do norms exert more of an influence on behavior when they are activated or brought to attention?


Study of littering behavior
Study of Littering Behavior

  • Norm Salience (Study 1):

    • Confederate carried a large handbill and threw it on the ground (High norm salience).

    • Handbill thrown into clean environment highlights the descriptive norm:

      PEOPLE DO NOT LITTER HERE

    • Handbill thrown into littered environment highlights the descriptive norm:

      PEOPLE USUALLY LITTER HERE


Two important predictions
Two Important Predictions

  • Prediction 1:

    • Subjects who saw the confederate litter into the fully littered environment would litter more than those who did not see such littering.

  • Prediction 2:

    • Subjects who saw the confederate litter into the clean environment would be less likely to litter than those who did not see such littering.

  • Key Point: Contrary to conformity prediction.


Results
Results

  • Confederate threw the handbill into the littered environment, thus calling attention to the descriptive norm:

    • IT IS OK TO LITTER HERE!

  • When littering norm was salient:

    • 54% of the subjects actually littered.

  • When littering norm was not salient:

    • Only 32% of the subjects of the subjects littered.


Results continued
Results (continued)

  • Confederate threw the handbill into the clean environment, thus calling attention to the descriptive norm:

    • IT IS NOT OK TO LITTER HERE!

  • When anti-littering norm was salient:

    • Only 6% of the subjects littered.

  • When anti-littering norm was not salient:

    • 14% of the subjects littered.


More littering into clean environment
More Littering Into Clean Environment

  • From Cialdini, Reno & Kallgren, 1990


Implications
Implications

  • Norms can often be very subtle.

    • Are you always aware the you are following a norm? Are there situations in which you are more aware than others? (E.g. Picnic vs. Funeral)

  • Norms have a powerful influence on behavior when people are focused on the norms in a given situation.

    • Think about different strategies for calling attention to norms (E.g. Shoes in someone’s entry hall during a party instead of the closet).


2 how are norms perceived and are these perceptions accurate
2. How are norms perceived and are these perceptions accurate?

  • Gambling in Elm Hollow (Shank, 1932)

    • Members of the community nearly unanimous in their support of the church’s restrictions on gambling, smoking and drinking.

    • Yet, the author often gambled, drank and smoked in the privacy of people’s homes.

  • Private attitudes did not reflect the public norm.


Pluralistic ignorance1
Pluralistic Ignorance accurate?

  • Definition: Individuals make systematic errors in their perceptions of the other members of a collective and their relation to those members.

  • In other words,

    • No one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone else believes.


Pluralistic ignorance at ilr
Pluralistic Ignorance at ILR? accurate?

Question: Do people see themselves as being more conservative than the average ILR student?

  • Survey of political attitudes

  • Scores above 3 represent a “Liberal” viewpoint.

  • Scores below 3 represent a “Conservative” viewpoint.


Self vs ilr
Self vs. ILR accurate?


Points of divergence
Points of Divergence accurate?

  • You thought that the norm was more liberal than it actually is on the following questions.

    #1: “Too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few

    large companies.”

    #13: “This country should do whatever it takes to protect the

    environment.”

    #14: “We should pay less attention to problems overseas

    and concentrate on problems here at home.”

    #15: “I consistently vote for Democrats in most elections.”


Origins of pluralistic ignorance
Origins of Pluralistic Ignorance accurate?

  • Minority-enforced social norms

    • Powerful, elite group can keep the majority in line (e.g. Methodist Church in Elm Hollow)

  • Prototypical social norms

    • Idealized behavior that differentiates one’s own group from another. (e.g. We are a party school)

  • Conservative lag

    • Private attitudes have shifted, but the public norm has remained the same (People change more quickly than groups).


Consequences of pluralistic ignorance
Consequences of Pluralistic Ignorance accurate?

  • Mistaken feelings of alienation and deviance.

    • Gamblers felt estranged from the town without knowing that they were actually typical.

    • Students who felt deviant because of their views on alcohol were less likely to attend their college reunion.

    • Male students conformed to the misperceived norm by drinking more.


Questions to consider
Questions to Consider accurate?

  • How can anyone know whether pluralistic ignorance exists?

    • Are there any beliefs at ILR that might not be as widely shared as everyone believes?

  • What would it take to identify pluralistic ignorance and bring the public norm back in line with private attitudes?


Individual versus the group
Individual versus the Group accurate?

  • The “group” has a reality above and beyond the individuals that compose it.

    • A college campus can be more pro-alcohol than its students.

    • Two campuses can differ on their attitudes toward alcohol even if their students do not.

    • Norms on campus can change even if the attitudes of its students have not.


Before you go
Before you go… accurate?

  • Complete brief survey about controversial issues for class on Tuesday.


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