This week on PostSecret I stumbled across the following confession: 

The idea that certain beliefs about college may not be true reminded me of the concept of pluralistic ignorance.  The phrase refers to a phenomenon in which a large proportion of a population misunderstands reality.

For example, while many college students think that lots of people hook up a lot, 80% of college students hook up less than once a semester, on average.  About 40% of those hook ups involve intercourse, while a strong third just involve getting horizontal and making out.  Students, for what it’s worth, also tend to consistently overestimate how much drugs and alcohol other students are consuming.

So, while “everyone thinks” that “everyone has fun during their freshman year.”  In fact, the person who wrote this confession may be a lot less alone than s/he thinks, even if most people think that everyone does, in fact, have fun.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.