I went back and forth on what to write on this week. I keep a notebook where I quick write down ideas when they come to my head because sometimes, they leave just as fast as they enter my thought process. With 2022 in full swing, I felt like building off last week’s post on New Year failure and discuss pluralistic ignorance.
I wanted to identify something, which I think, has a compounding influence on our success or failure. It dictates our actions by playing on our precarious insecurity when it comes to those around us at any given time, pluralistic ignorance.
the state of affairs in which virtually every member of a group privately disagrees with what are considered to be the prevailing attitudes and beliefs of the group as a whole.APA Dictionary of Psychology
While one could trace pluralistic ignorance to numerous culturally antiquated practices, I am going to use it regarding the New Year and the impact it can have on one’s success or failure. I will roll out a scenario to help illustrate the situation:
Bob decides he wants to make a change for the New Year.
Bob buys a gym membership, sets his alarm, and makes sure to go to bed at a decent time.
Bob wakes to his alarm, excited, and ready to make a change.
Bob shows up to the gym and his grin turns into a stoic relic of his recent excitement.
Bob is walking around the gym aimlessly, moving between machines, but no real plan.
Bob ends up on a treadmill because this is what others are doing.
Bob sticks it out for a week and then he falls back into old habits and making sure to stay in the majority of failure because it is expected.
What led to Bob’s failure?
There could have been multiple forces at play for Bob, but I am going to pick the low hanging fruit of pluralistic ignorance. I am going after this force because it is something all of us can address because this concept comes into play in all aspects of life.
Everyone knows what the majority is thinking or thinks they do.
When Bob walked into the gym, he automatically registered what everyone else was doing. He noticed people moving from machine to machine, wiping off sweat, and (mostly) putting their weights back. Bob didn’t ask questions due to pluralistic ignorance. Bob assumed everyone knew what they were doing and didn’t want to seem out of place or risk breaking a social norm. Bob followed what other people were doing, not asking questions, and ended up in the failing majority of New Year’s.
If you want to increase your success at anything, pluralistic ignorance will set you back if not addressed, and addressed early. I am going use Bob as the example. What could Bob have done to succeed or increase his chances of success?
- Book an appointment with a personal trainer
- Speak to an expert. Your success rate will increase exponentially if you’re performing a task properly from the start.
- Join a gym which has group classes
- Group classes, led by a coach, can help a new athlete avoid some pitfalls of fitness
- Do a little bit of research before hand
- We have computers in our pockets. Use it for more than social media and research gyms in your area. Look for gyms which fit your personality and what you are looking for.
Bob could have walked in the first day, realized he didn’t know shit, and went to the front desk to ask about a trainer. Instead, Bob assumed everyone knew what they were doing, and didn’t want to break from the unspoken rules of the gym. Bob didn’t know most of the other people in the gym were fighting the same unfamiliarity he was. Bob let pluralistic ignorance dictate his success as most of us do.
The only way to fight this concept is to ask questions. Whether it is fitness, work, friendships, or general life, pluralistic ignorance can sneak into anything. The next time you are sitting in a meeting or in a class and the lecturer/presenter asks if there are questions or if everyone understands take a moment and decide if you want to give in to pluralistic ignorance. If something seems difficult or convoluted to you, chances are in your favor it is the same for others. Speak up, speaking up is the only way to combat this little spoken about bias in our lives. No one wants to seem “stupid” or “not in the know” but someone needs to tell the emperor they are not wearing clothes.