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False Assumptions About Others

Author Todd Rose makes the point that our tendency to make false assumptions, or fall into collective illusions, can result in mistrust, discouragement, and error. He writes,

If I asked how you personally define a successful life, which of these answers would you choose?

A. A person is successful if they have followed their own interests and talents to become the best they can be at what they care about most.

B. A person is successful if they are rich, have a high-profile career, or are well-known.

Now which one do you think most people would choose? If you chose option A for yourself but thought that most people would choose option B, you are living under a collective illusion. This question came from a 2019 study of more than fifty-two hundred people conducted on the ways the American public defines success.

The result was that 97 percent chose A for themselves, but 92 percent thought that most others would choose B.

Rose concluded, “We learned that a large majority of people felt that the most important attributes for success in their own lives were qualities such as character, good relationships, and education. But those same people believed that most others prioritized comparative attributes such as wealth, status, and power.”

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