On the rationality of pluralistic ignorance
- 751 Downloads
Pluralistic ignorance is a socio-psychological phenomenon that involves a systematic discrepancy between people’s private beliefs and public behavior in certain social contexts. Recently, pluralistic ignorance has gained increased attention in formal and social epistemology. But to get clear on what precisely a formal and social epistemological account of pluralistic ignorance should look like, we need answers to at least the following two questions: What exactly is the phenomenon of pluralistic ignorance? And can the phenomenon arise among perfectly rational agents? In this paper, we propose answers to both these questions. First, we characterize different versions of pluralistic ignorance and define the version that we claim most adequately captures the examples cited as paradigmatic cases of pluralistic ignorance in the literature. In doing so, we will stress certain key epistemic and social interactive aspects of the phenomenon. Second, given our characterization of pluralistic ignorance, we argue that the phenomenon can indeed arise in groups of perfectly rational agents. This, in turn, ensures that the tools of formal epistemology can be fully utilized to reason about pluralistic ignorance.
KeywordsPluralistic ignorance Epistemic rationality Social behavior Rational interaction Private beliefs Public beliefs
- Bicchieri, C. (2006). The grammar of society—The nature and dynamics of social norms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Danmarks Statistik. (2011). Befolkningens brug af internet—2010. http://www.dst.dk/pukora/epub/upload/15239/it.pdf.
- Hansen, J. U. (2012). A logic-based approach to pluralistic ignorance. In J. D. Vuyst & L. Demey (Ed.), Future directions for logic—Proceedings of PhDs in Logic III: College Publications, pp. 67–80.Google Scholar
- Hendricks, V. F., Olsson, E. J., Zenker, F. (2012). Copenhagen-Lund workshop in social epistemology, 2010–2011. http://www.fil.lu.se/conferences/conference.asp?id=43&lang=se.
- Katz, D., & Allport, F. H. (1931). Student attitudes. Syracuse, NY: The Craftsman Press.Google Scholar
- Lisciandra, C., Muldoon, R., Hartmann, S., Rad, S. R. (2011). Pluralistic ignorance, slides from the 4th copenhagen lund workshop in social epistemology. http://www.fil.lu.se/files/conference214.pdf.
- Miller, D. T., & McFarland, C. (1991). When social comparison goes awry: The case of pluralistic ignorance. In J. Suls & T. Wills (Eds.), Social comparison: Contemporary theory and research (pp. 287–313). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Westphal, J. D., & Bednar, M. K. (2005). Pluralistic ignorance in corporate boards and firms’ strategic persistence in response to low firm performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50(2), 262–298.Google Scholar