Volume 57 (2017) Issue 1 Pages 29-41
This study aimed to examine the antecedent conditions of pluralistic ignorance. We hypothesized that when people perceive a gap between a group member’s actual behavior versus preference, they would attribute it to a sort of norm within the group, and conform accordingly. In Study 1, we conducted a longitudinal survey regarding punctuality norm among college students. In Study 2, we conducted a laboratory experiment to examine the phenomenon step-by-step. Participants entered a laboratory in groups of five and were asked to taste and evaluate two kinds of water in rotation. All participants were led to believe that they were fourth in turn to taste the water, and were told that the first three participants had selected the poor tasting water (Water L), hence participants were informed as to which water was of higher quality. As we predicted, the more the participants believed that the prior participants personally preferred the other water in spite of their selection, the more they tended to conform to the majority’s behavior and select Water L, because they perceived the group norm should to be followed.