Have you seen an interview of, say, a media-portrayed hero who charged into a burning building to save someone; and he says something like this “Anyone would’ve done the same for me”? Or have you seen a genocidal criminal on trial who says “Anyone in my shoes would have done the same”? These are examples of false consensus effect and yes, they are false assumptions and if you ever said that, you have indulged yourself in a logical fallacy.
The false consensus effect mainly comes from people’s tendency to “think that their beliefs, opinions and actions enjoy greater consensus than is really the case.”(Gilovich and Ross, 2015). I’m sure you can see why this is a problem already, we are all different and to make such an assumption borders on arrogance. However, don’t blame yourself, our psychological wiring creates the tendency for us to do that; at least I did until I came across this revelation.
The difficulty does not lie in understanding the problem with the logical fallacy but rather detecting it. We know that it is a dumb assumption to make but because we are already psychologically wired to do so, we need to make conscious effort to defy it.
So next time when you hear someone says something so arrogant, scold him…. Just kidding, be nice and tell yourself good job for detecting it, and leave that poor guy alone alright?
Gilovich, T. and Ross, L. (2015) The wisest One in the room: How you can benefit from social psychology’s Five most powerful insights. Philadelphia, PA, United States: Free Press.