Have You Heard of the False Consensus Effect?

  • Reading time:13 mins read
Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

The interesting thing about the cognitive bias called the False consensus effect, is that even though I know that I’m biased towards my own opinions, I still think I am not. “Everyone else is biased, but I’m not,” I say.

We all know that our opinion is just one opinion in a sea of opinions, but we still assume that our opinion as common as the stars in the night sky.

This causes another bias to creep into our thinking and judgment. If we assume the commonness of our own opinions, experiences, and judgments, then it must mean that everyone else is thinking and experiencing the same thing. Thus, we can assume we know what they are thinking or feeling. Which isn’t true. We have no idea really!

In cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), it’s also called Mind-reading error – where we assume we know what other people are thinking or feeling.

Stop Assuming Other People Think Like You – It’s a Cognitive Bias

One of the first times I realized about the cognitive bias that people think differently from each other was when I saw how people view a glass of water as half-empty (pessimist) or half-full (optimist).

It was really fascinating to me, that people could be looking at the same thing, and see completely different things.

I also read that people have different color rods in their eyes, and that means, that if you are looking at a blue dress, and I am looking at a blue dress, we are both seeing a different shade of blue!!! We even see color differently!!

Absolutely mind-blowing. Not only that, but it also gives us a lot of food for thought.

What does this mean for humans, when we are having a conversation or trying to negotiate a deal or run a country filled with diverse opinions, thoughts, and experiences?

Every single person on this planet is going to look at the same exact issue, in 7.8 billion different ways. That’s what is the fascinating thing about being a human on this diverse, multicultural, and multi-lingual planet right now.

You cannot believe even for a second that other people think like you.

Not only do people differ in their genetic structures, but also in life experiences, and in their physical bodies, and so much more. There are so many things differentiating us from the person sitting next to us.

Even twins, who might have grown up in an identical environment and have identical DNA, will end up with differing views and opinions. What chance do we have when we don’t even share DNA or life experiences of seeing eye-to-eye?

Continue Reading Have You Heard of the False Consensus Effect?