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False Consensus Effect: Definition, Examples, and Effects

Updated: Jun 2, 2023


The false consensus effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the extent to which others agree with them. It is a phenomenon in which people assume that their opinions, beliefs, and behaviors are more widely shared than they actually are. This bias can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including groupthink, polarization, and the spread of misinformation. In this blog post, we’ll explore the definition, examples, and effects of the false consensus effect.


Examples: One example of the false consensus effect is when people assume that their political views are shared by the majority of the population. This can lead to a false sense of security and a lack of motivation to engage in meaningful dialogue with those who disagree. Another example is when people assume that their religious beliefs are shared by the majority of the population. This can lead to a lack of understanding and appreciation for different beliefs and cultures.


Effects: The false consensus effect can have a variety of negative effects. It can lead to groupthink, where people are less likely to challenge the status quo and more likely to conform to the majority opinion. It can also lead to polarization, where people become more entrenched in their beliefs and less likely to compromise. Finally, it can lead to the spread of misinformation, as people are more likely to believe and share information that aligns with their own beliefs.


Overall, the false consensus effect is a cognitive bias that can have a variety of negative effects. It is important to be aware of this bias and to strive to understand and appreciate different perspectives. By doing so, we can help to create a more open and tolerant society.


Do you want to expand your knowledge on this topic? Read our full in-depth article on cognitive biases.


Do you have extra 15 minutes today? Take our fun and interactive quiz to learn which of 16 reasoning styles you use, your overall level of rationality, and what you can do now to improve your rationality skills.

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