What are Collective Illusions and how do they form?

Psychologist Todd Rose has debunked 8 common myths so mainstream we all believe them. They are the result of Collective Illusions.

Jason Chatfield
2 min readDec 11, 2022

What are those?

Collective illusions occur when most members of a group privately reject what appears to be the widely accepted group norm. This phenomenon has also been referred to as pluralistic ignorance, but Dr. Rose explains that he prefers the term collective illusions because it’s not so much a matter of people not knowing what others think; rather, it’s an issue of being convinced that we know, and being wrong.

How does Social Media help us form Collective Illusions?

When we engage online, we tend to think that we are engaging with a reasonable sample size of the population. But it’s not true:

Close to 80% of all content on social media is generated by about 10% of the users. That 10% tends to be the most extreme on social issues. They are the vocal fringe.

When you have a vocal minority that is perceived as the majority, a critical mass of us will either self-silence or we will just “go along to get along”.
It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is how collective illusions form.

For more, watch the following presentation:



Jason Chatfield

New York-based Australian Comedian & Cartoonist for the New Yorker. Obsessed with productivity hacks, the creative process, and the Oxford comma.