Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Pluralistic ignorance: Conceptual framework, antecedents and consequences

Alcindo Mendes, Ernesto Lopez-Valeiras, Rogerio Joao Lunkes


Purpose: The aim of this paper is to present, in an integrated manner, the knowledge acquired
about pluralistic ignorance in the fields of social psychology, sociology and business.
Particularly, to identify the factors that work as antecedents of pluralistic ignorance, as well as its
consequences, in various research contexts.
Design/methodology: This integrative study on pluralistic ignorance was conducted with the
Proknow-C method, which allows the construction of knowledge through a structured process
of search and identification of a bibliographic portfolio.
Findings: The major results include the literature review and the identification of research
networks such as Allport, O'Gorman, Shamir and Miller in the field social psychology and
Harvey, Buckley and Halbesleben in organizations. A systemic analysis showed how pluralistic
ignorance is formed, and clarified the difference between perceptual and inferential ignorance.
The systemic analysis resulted in a model with seven social comparison errors that can be seen
as antecedents of ignorance and a framework with its consequences, divided into three
categories: people's attitude, people's behavior and organizational capabilities. Research limitations/implications: As with every research review, identification and review
of the literature depend on the authors' world view. One of the difficulties in researching
pluralistic ignorance is that it is studied in different areas of knowledge and from different
Originality/value: The knowledge acquired throughout more than eight decades of research
on pluralistic ignorance is fragmented into different perspectives. However, what was shown by
the systemic analysis of the literature is that studies are more often geared toward psychosocial
issues and it is still not very well known how the causes and consequences of pluralistic
ignorance interact with the management processes in the organizational environment. This
review presents a model for guiding the process of formation of pluralistic ignorance and a
guiding framework for future research, as far as its consequences are concerned.

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