I'm wondering if there's a good term for assuming knowledge, or other things, is more common due to my own experience.

Essentially it's like being out of touch with reality, but a little more specific.

One term comes to mind is confirmation bias, but again I don't think it quite matches.

Essentially it's because I've self selected to receive a certain amount of information, I assume it's common knowledge, only to find it isn't.

My personal example is, I repaired a broken kindle screen by replacing it with a new one, and opening up the old kindle.

I assumed a lot of people knew this was a possibility, turns out it they don't. I was surprised to realize this, until I concluded that because I work with technology it's in my sphere of knowledge.

Something about cultural knowledge? Frequency fallacy (I see it a lot, but that doesn't mean it's really frequent) -- Is frequency fallacy a real phrase?

7 Answers 7


I think it is   false-consensus effect:

In psychology, the false-consensus effect or false-consensus bias is a cognitive bias whereby a person tends to overestimate the extent to which their beliefs or opinions are typical of those of others.

There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are "normal" and that others also think the same way that they do. This cognitive bias tends to lead to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, a "false consensus".

  • 1
    I think this is a good one. +1 Commented May 15, 2014 at 19:20
  • 2
    If I could juggle all of the logical biases that exist in my head at once, I would probably be a wreck trying not to fall into them. Fortunately I forget a lot of them all the time, so I can live free of worry, in brief periods.
    – kevingreen
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 19:28
  • 1
    That doesn't sound to me what the OP was after. He describes making the error that he thinks something is more commonplace than it really is.
    – Phil Perry
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 20:53
  • @Phil Perry: Yes that's what he asks and this covers it. Also, it covers one of the answers below: availability heuristic. It was in the Wikipedia article already, I just wanted to quote the general meaning.
    – ermanen
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 5:05
  • KevinGreen since you work in technology it's also what they say about software programming design patterns: Just because you can use them doesn't mean you should. I might be tempted to go for a simpler answer...but unfortunately I can't think of one. It's the opposite of "beginner's mind" perhaps.
    – Raydot
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 0:21

This is the availability heuristic. Not a fallacy per se, but certainly a cognitive bias in our estimation of the frequency of events.

When faced with the difficult task of judging probability or frequency, people use a limited number of strategies, called heuristics, to simplify these judgements. One of these strategies, the availability heuristic, is the tendency to make a judgement about the frequency of an event based on how easy it is to recall similar instances.

So, since your personal experience includes events of disassembling electronic hardware much more frequently than the average person, your mind much more easily recalls instances of doing so — and so you over-estimate the frequency of those events in the general population.

Here's a very similar example taken straight from the Wikipedia article on the heuristic:

For example, if a student is asked whether her college had more students from Colorado or more from California, her answer would probably be based on the personal examples she is able to recall.

  • +1 This is almost certainly what the OP is looking for - I actually was Googling this to confirm I had the right one from Kahneman's book in memory, then saw you'd already posted it!
    – Jaydles
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 2:33

While I can't find the exact answer, I'm willing to bet that if you spent some time reading through Wikipedia's list of cognitive biases, you'd probably find your answer (if it even exists!). Hope that helps.

  • It would be more appropriate if this was a comment rather than an answer.
    – ermanen
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 5:16
  • I don't have enough reputation to comment. :(
    – skarz
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 17:20

I think you are describing a cognitive bias, a tendency to think in a certain way; a tendency to make decisions and act in ways that are anything but rational.

There are many cognitive biases, as there are fallacies, and there is some crossover.

Confirmation bias: The tendency to look for information that confirms our existing preconceptions, making it more likely to ignore or neglect data that disconfirms our beliefs.

Perhaps you want to believe people know as mush as you do, and that is why you are surprised when they don't.

Curse of knowledge: when better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people.

Myopia bias: seeing and interpreting the world through the narrow lens of your own experiences, baggage, beliefs, and assumptions.

Your frequency fallacies mean something different.

Stereotyping: Expecting a member of a group to have certain characteristics without having actual information about that individual? Maybe because they are your friends, you have stereotyped them as knowing everything you do.

Cognitive biases are complicated, and there are hundreds of them. I'm sure there is a specific one that applies to educated people believing more people are like them than not. But I can't find it at the moment.

There is a fallacy called a Hasty generalization which may fit your situation : if A is true for me, and for someone B, C, and D that I know, it's true for everybody.

  • Frequency fallacy is a real thing? I couldn't find anything on it, but the words seemed to fit so well together.
    – kevingreen
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 19:15
  • @kevingreen - yes they are, but they mean something different. Sorry my answer was incomplete. I was looking for a familiarity bias. There are so many, and I haven't found the right one yet. Commented May 15, 2014 at 19:18

I think you may be referring to empirical knowledge.

Empirical : relying on or derived from observation or experiment.

  • Hmm, I guess so. I was thinking it was more of a logical fallacy on my part, I just don't know a term for it.
    – kevingreen
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 18:48

This is really just projection - assuming your own attitudes and knowledge is universally applicable rather than examine each case.


This is probably best described as familiarity bias, but is very similar to the well known not-invented-here syndrome.

familiarity bias : What I see around me, which I know, appears better (or of a higher quality) than something new / different that someone introduces.

not-invented-here ('NiH') syndrome : That's not something we developed, so it is assumed to be inferior. This most often manifests when doing inhouse development (software, research & development), and one fails to realise that what is being developed already exists in the market as a proven product.

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