Preference Falsification

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Preference falsification is a type of signaling under which people misrepresent or fail to communicate their true preferences. This often occurs because people fear being judged for their true preferences. The concept was proposed by social scientist Timor Kuran in book Private Truth, Public Lies.

People are very sensitive to the social ramifications of being up-front about their beliefs. Because of this, people are capable of fooling themselves to the extent that they are not even aware of their own preferences. The concept is related to choice blindness, social proof, and the Emperor has no clothes.

Preference falsification has affects on political movements. When certain political opinions are considered socially desirable, and others socially undesirable, people may be reluctant to express positions outside of the Overton Window.

A high degree of preference falsification can make polling inaccurate, as in the election of Donald Trump and Brexit. It also entails a high degree of political potential energy, i.e., a silent majority. A politician can become successful by tapping into a set of positions that are popular but previously ignored for social status reasons.