Pluralistic Ignorance Research in Psychology: A Scoping Review of Topic and Method Variation and Directions for Future Research

Rikki H. Sargent, Leonard S. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pluralistic ignorance occurs when group members mistakenly believe others’ cognitions and/or behaviors are systematically different from their own. More than 20 years have passed since the last review of pluralistic ignorance from a psychological framework, with more than 60 empirical articles assessing pluralistic ignorance published since then. Previous reviews took an almost entirely conceptual approach with minimal review of methodology, making existing reviews outdated and limited in the extent to which they can provide guidelines for researchers. The goal of this review is to evaluate and integrate the literature on pluralistic ignorance, clarify important conceptual issues, identify inconsistencies in the literature, and provide guidance for future research. We provide a comprehensive definition for the phenomenon, with a focus on its status as a group-level phenomenon. We highlight three areas of variation in particular in the current scoping review: variation in topics assessed, variation in measurement, and (especially) variation in methods for assessing the implications of individual-level misperceptions that, in aggregate, lead to pluralistic ignorance. By filling these gaps in the literature, we ultimately hope to motivate further analysis of the phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-184
Number of pages22
JournalReview of General Psychology
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • methodological review
  • pluralistic ignorance
  • scoping review
  • social psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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