One of the things which makes the media’s bias in favor of President Obama so influential is the natural human tendency to want to belong, and the fear being out of the mainstream.
As a professor, I cannot count the number of classes in which students were reluctant to ask a question for fear that everyone else already knew the answer. And yet when some “brave soul” actually asks, at least half the class heaves an audible sigh of relief – they all have the same question.
The “grownups” behave this way as well. A few years ago, a group of my colleagues at a major state university decided to conduct some baseline research about faculty receptivity to entrepreneurship. Those who conducted the poll identified some of their own assumptions up front. The primary assumption was that most faculty would be either ignorant about or hostile to entrepreneurship (or both).
The results were astonishing.
Overwhelmingly, the faculty polled were not only aware of entrepreneurship, but very favorably disposed towards it, viewing it as a form of creativity, individual expression, and problem solving. They even identified colleagues they admired who were, in their view, “entrepreneurial.”
That was surprising enough. But it was the rest of the poll that was so revealing, and relevant here.
Those same faculty were also asked how they thought their peers viewed entrepreneurship. Amazingly, they, too, assumed that the vast majority of their peers were hostile to the idea of entrepreneurship, and that they were the outliers. It was only when they were made aware of the results that they discovered their own viewpoint was actually in the majority.
Laura Hollis is an Associate Professional Specialist and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches entrepreneurship and business law. She is the author of the forthcoming publication, “Start Up, Screw Up, Scale Up: What Government Can Learn From the Best Entrepreneurs,” © 2014. Her opinions are her own, and do not reflect the position of the university. Follow her on Twitter: @LauraHollis61.
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