How To Cope With False Consensus Effect?

Aatir Abdul Rauf


Aatir Abdul Rauf


Aug 7, 2022

How To Cope With False Consensus Effect?

Have you ever met someone who thinks everyone agrees with them?

I'm sure you have.

They usually suffer from a cognitive bias called the "False consensus" effect which leads them to overestimate how much others share their ideas and beliefs.

Some reasons why people fall prey to this:

1. They have deep-seated insecurities resulting in a desire to see their ideas and thoughts as being part of the norm.

2. They have limited exposure e.g. to a select set of people or certain news media. This stifled input skews their impression of what the average person believes.

3. They are so focused on their line of thinking that their ego prevents them from adopting any another viewpoint.

Product Managers cannot afford to operate under the influence of "false consensus".

Because the entire job revolves around obsessing about someone else's problem.

Few tips to counter this:

1. Use personas. Verbalize your stories in third person rather than "I" and "me".

2. Qualify your assumptions. What part of your idea is based on your "gut"? Can you find evidence to support it?

3. Get someone to play devils advocate and stress test your theories. Listen more, write notes & react less.

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