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Understanding pluralistic ignorance in organizations: application and theory

Jonathon R.B. Halbesleben (Department of Health Management and Informatics, School of Medicine, University of Missouri Columbia, Columbia, Missouri, USA)
Anthony R. Wheeler (Foster College of Business Administration, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, USA)
M. Ronald Buckley (Michael F. Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 23 January 2007




Pluralistic ignorance is defined as a situation in which an individual holds an opinion, but mistakenly believes that the majority of his or her peers hold the opposite opinion. The purpose of this paper is to refocus attention on pluralistic ignorance as an important, applied, and multilevel concept to organizational researchers by developing a theory of pluralistic ignorance in organizational contexts.


The paper reviews the literature with regard to the causes and consequences (for individuals, groups and organizations) of pluralistic ignorance and develops an integrated understanding of how pluralistic ignorance influences employees and organizations.


The paper finds that pluralistic ignorance is a complex phenomenon that has important consequences for organizations with relation to behavior of individuals.

Research limitations/implications

The development of a model of pluralistic ignorance, with research propositions, will assist researchers seeking to conduct research on this topic.


This paper is original in that it is the first to delineate the processes underlying pluralistic ignorance in a managerial/organizational context.



Halbesleben, J.R.B., Wheeler, A.R. and Buckley, M.R. (2007), "Understanding pluralistic ignorance in organizations: application and theory", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 65-83.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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