Majority Misunderstanding

Majority Misunderstanding is a concept that deals with unconscious peer pressure. We are social beings, and therefore influenced by what we believe other people think and do.

Sometimes we might think that everyone else think and does something, whereas in reality only a few think and act that way. This is called a ‘majority misunderstanding’.

For instance a teenager may think that many of his peers are drunk on weekends, but in reality very few may in fact be drunk.

In Denmark, there have been two large school projects about social bearing and majority misunderstandings: The Ringsted Study and The Aarhus Experiment. Both projects have demonstrated that this intervention significantly reduces smoking, alcohol and crime. It’s easy to try it yourself. You simply ask two simple questions in a school class:

  1. How many of your peers do you believe act like xxx currently?
  2. Do you xxx currently?

When we analyse the answers, it often turns out that there is a significant difference between belief and reality. The results are used as a starting point for conversations about why we may well believe in something other than reality. An excellent guidance and inspiration catalog can be found here.