In psychology, the false-consensus effect is a cognitive bias whereby a person tends to overestimate how much other people agree with him or her. There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values and habits are ‘normal’ and that others also think the same way that they do. This cognitive bias tends to lead to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, a ‘false consensus’. This false consensus is significant because it increases self-esteem. The need to be “normal” and fit in with other people is underlined by a desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment.
The false-consensus effect is an important attribution bias to take into consideration when conducting business and in everyday social interactions. Essentially, people are inclined to believe that the general population agrees with their opinions and judgments, which, true or not, gives them a feeling of more assurance and security in their decisions. This could be an important phenomenon to either exploit or avoid in business dealings. For example, if a man doubted whether he wanted to buy a new tool, breaking down his notion that others agree with his doubt would be an important step in persuading him to purchase it. By convincing the customer that other people in fact do want to buy the appliance, the seller could perhaps make a sale that he would not have made otherwise.