Higher Education

, Volume 68, Issue 4, pp 525–540 | Cite as

Pluralistic ignorance among student–athlete populations: a factor in academic underperformance

  • Joshua Levine
  • Sara Etchison
  • Daniel. M. Oppenheimer


It is well documented that student–athletes underperform academically. Some researchers have suggested that this underperformance is because student–athletes lack motivation in academic endeavors. In contrast, we find that most student–athletes hold positive private attitudes towards academic achievement, but also believe that their peers do not. In order to fit in, athletes conform to the perceived (but false) social norm in their public behaviors, thus undermining their academic performance and simultaneously reinforcing the (false) social norm for the rest of their team. This pluralistic ignorance suggests that different interventions will be needed to solve the problem than are typically proposed.


Student–athletes Academic underperformance Pluralistic ignorance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua Levine
    • 1
  • Sara Etchison
    • 2
  • Daniel. M. Oppenheimer
    • 2
  1. 1.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Anderson School of ManagementUCLALos AngelesUSA

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