The more we know; the less we know: the effects of interpersonal networks on employees misperception of peers preferences to utilize family-friendly benefits

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University of Alabama Libraries

Pluralistic ignorance is a situation in which individuals inaccurately perceive the attitudes of their peers within their work group to be different from their own and subsequently align their behavior with what they mistakenly believe are the attitudes of their peers. Prior research on has tended to focus on the consequences of pluralistic ignorance, including a recent study on family-friendly benefit utilization. This study seeks to examine the predictors of misperceptions, a key ingredient of pluralistic ignorance, in the context of peers’ preferences to utilize family-friendly benefits, using social network analysis. Specifically, this study examines the role of centrality on the degree to which central members misperceive their peers’ preferences over time and the degree to which their preferences influence the group over time. Further, this study examines how the overall network structure can suppress the relationship between centrality and misperceptions. Contrary to what one may assume, the more central an employee in their network, the greater their misperceptions of their peers’ preferences towards family-friendly benefit utilization. The results of this study imply that pluralistic ignorance is a possibility, even for work groups with close interpersonal relationships.

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