Collective Illusions

Conformity, Complicity, and the Science of Why We Make Bad Decisions


By Todd Rose

Read by Jay Ben Markson

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 1, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience, behavioral economic, and social psychology research, acclaimed author, former Harvard professor, and think tank founder Todd Rose reveals how so much of our thinking about each other is informed by false assumptions that drive bad decisions that make us dangerously mistrustful as a society and hopelessly unhappy as individuals.

The desire to fit in is one of the most powerful, least understood forces in a society.
Todd Rose believes that as human beings we continually act against our own best interests out of our brains’ misunderstanding of what we think others believe.  A complicated set of illusions driven by conformity bias distorts how we see the world around us. From toilet paper shortages to kidneys that get thrown away rather than used for desperately needed organ transplants, from racial segregation to the perceived “electability” of women for political office, from bottled water to “cancel culture,” we routinely copy others, lie about what we believe, cling to tribes, and silence others.
We are so profoundly social that when we are incongruent with the group that we do lasting damage to our self-worth, diminish our well-being and never realize our full potential. It’s why we all too often chase the familiar trappings of money, fame, and success that leave us feeling empty even when we do achieve them. It’s why we’ll blindly espouse a viewpoint we don’t necessarily believe in so that we blend in with the group. We trap ourselves in prisons of our own making that prevent us from living the happy, fulfilled lives we envision.
The question is, Why do we keep believing the lies and hurting ourselves?
Todd Rose reveals the answer is deeply hard-wired in our DNA, with brains that are more socially dependent than we realize or dare to accept. Most of us would rather be fully in sync with the social norms of our respective groups than true to who we are. 
Using originally researched data, Collective Illusions shows us where we get things wrong and just as important, how we can be authentic in forming our opinions while valuing truth. Rose offers a counterintuitive, empowering, and hopeful explanation for how we can bridge the inference gap, make decisions with a newfound clarity, and achieve fulfillment. Only then can we transform ourselves, and ultimately, society.    


  • “An illuminating analysis of why groups believe things their members don’t—and how we can fight groupthink. Move over, truthiness: Todd Rose is here with science and stories to help us rethink our questionable assumptions and abandon our inaccurate beliefs.”
    Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
  • “Rose explores the ways in which our tendency to mistake self-assurance for expertise, to base choices on what we think other people will choose, and to confuse a vocal fringe element for an actual majority cause us to make bad decisions. An eye-opening, thought-provoking book that encourages us to take a good, hard look at ourselves.”
  • Praise for Todd Rose:
  • “Todd Rose has achieved a rare feat: he is both provocative and right. He overturns our fundamental assumptions about talent, and offers an empowering way to rethink the world.”
    Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals
  • “An eye-opening, thought-provoking book that encourages us to take a good, hard look at ourselves.”
  • "Consistently mind-blowing!”
    Dan Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestsellers Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive
  • “Our one-dimensional understanding of achievement—our search for the average score, average grade, average talent—has seriously underestimated human potential. This book is readable, enlightening, and way above average.”
    Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of To Sell Is Human and Drive
  • “Todd Rose’s thought-provoking book challenges the explanatory power of the everyday term ‘average,’ opening our minds to new ways of conceptualizing human variation and human potentials.”
    Howard Gardner, author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed
  • "Readers will be moved to examine their own averagerian prejudices, most so ingrained as to be almost invisible, all worthy of review."
    New York Times
  • “Shatters our conventional notion of what success is and how to attain it.”
    Amy Cuddy, New York Times bestselling author of Presence

On Sale
Feb 1, 2022
Hachette Audio


Todd Rose

About the Author

Todd Rose is the cofounder of Populace, a think tank dedicated to building a world where all people have the chance to live fulfilling lives in a thriving society. Prior to Populace, Dr. Rose was a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he founded the Laboratory for the Science of Individuality and directed the Mind, Brain, and Education program. He lives in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Learn more about this author