Timur Kuran writes about the phenomenon he calls “preference falsification”: people tend to hide unpopular views to avoid ostracism or punishment; they stop hiding them when they feel safe. When something breaks the spell and the discontented realize that their feelings are widely shared, at which point the collapse of the regime may seem very sudden to outside observers. Kuran calls this sudden change a “preference cascade”. Novelist Bret Easton Ellis recently tweeted: “Just back from a dinner in West Hollywood: shocked the majority of the table was voting for Trump but they would never admit it publicly.” What he describes is preference falsification, but if people stop hiding, it will become a cascade.
A new theory by cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman is garnering attention. Grounded in evolutionary psychology, it is called the interface theory of perception (ITP) and argues that percepts act as a species-specific user interface that directs behavior toward survival and reproduction, not truth.