Four studies tested the hypothesis that observers tend to interpret others’ actions as approach motivated even when they recognize that their own identical choices were motivated by avoidance. Study 1 found that voters in the 2000 U.S. Presidential election who chose a candidate primarily because of their aversion to the alternative thought that others who voted for the same candidate liked him more than they themselves did. In Studies 2, 3, and 4 participants who learned that others made the same choice as themselves between 2 unappealing flavors of soda or jelly beans estimated that the others would pay more than they would for their common choice. The relevance of these findings for an understanding of pluralistic ignorance is discussed.
Miller, D. T., & Nelson, L. D. (2002). Seeing approach motivation in the avoidance behavior of others: Implications for an understanding of pluralistic ignorance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(5), 1066-1075.