15 Mind-Boggling Psychological Phenomena


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Mind-Boggling Psychological Phenomena

It is no secret that the human mind is capable of innumerable wonders, but sometimes we encounter situations that pose strange questions and leave us perplexed. The wide sphere of the human psyche is a complex web that keeps entangling with every string we pull. It is like a beautiful nebula full of crazy phenomena and if you would love to know a few of the craziest ones, then you are at the right place!

15 Mind-Boggling Psychological Phenomena

1. Pygmalion Effect

This phenomenon, also known as the Rosenthal effect, implies that individuals tend to do better when subjected to high expectations. For instance, if a teacher expects a high score from a particular student then the student does score high. This also throws light on what is called a self-fulfilling prophecy in which people tend to do what is expected of them.

2. Confirmation Bias

It elucidates the tendency of individuals to interpret a set of information in such a way that it confirms their pre-existing notions or biases. It also affects the way we collect and recall information. In simple terms, you understand and give meaning to the details of an event in favor of the ideas you already believe in.

3. Anchoring Bias

This is another type of cognitive bias which suggests that people tend to use the first bit of information provided to them as a starting point or an anchor to guide their actions. This can be best understood in terms of shopping strategies. For instance, you are keen on buying a type of dress that retails for 2000 rupees according to your research. You soon go to the market and buy a similar dress at the price of 1700 rupees thinking it’s such a good deal only to find out later that the same dress was available for 1200 rupees elsewhere.

In this case, you used the information you received first as the anchor and based your decision of buying the dress on it as it seemed like the best available option for you.

4. Hindsight Bias

Hindsight Bias reveals the inclination of individuals to believe they ‘ knew it all along ’ after an unforeseen event. Example: you score lesser in an exam than what you expected but still end up somehow convincing yourself that you didn’t expect good scores and knew you didn’t write a good answer. This behavior leads to an inaccurate estimation and analysis of the events which might hamper an individual’s skills to overcome unpredictable situations.

5. Spotlight Effect

Remember the last time you felt anxious because you thought everybody was looking at you while you were walking down the street as you dressed differently that day? Well, in that case, chances are you experienced the spotlight effect. It refers to the tendency of individuals to miscalculate an event and believe that they are being watched by others.

This is often an overestimation of the degree of attention individuals get that can either make them overconfident or underconfident.

6. Jamais Vu

Jamais Vu, translating to ‘never seen’, is a phenomenon in which individuals tend to have an eerie experience with an already noticed object. There is a lost sense of familiarity with seemingly known subjects.

So, If you suddenly look at a word that you use every day but it feels strangely new and distinct then don’t be spooked it’s just jamais vu.

7. Frequency Illusion

This phenomenon, also called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, explains how people, after encountering a new object, tend to continually see it everywhere. The reason why such a situation arises is because you finally start detecting the previously unnoticed object everywhere you go. 

So if you read a new word or a phrase one day and suddenly start viewing it everywhere, then it probably is not because the cosmos is trying to send you some weird message, but because frequency illusion caught you off guard! 

8. Placebo Effect

One of the craziest but still underrated psychological phenomenon has to be the placebo effect. A placebo effect suggests an event in which people believe they are getting better from a perceived pain through the help of a placebo (a fake medical supplement) which they think is real. It helps the brain trigger improvement of the sensed pain or discomfort. 

This is definitely not a cure, but a treatment for mild symptoms. Do you need anything other than this phenomenon to be convinced of the power that your brain holds? 

9. False Memory

Believe it or not, but people can have memories of events that never occurred in their lives. False memory implies situations in which individuals tend to either alter memories of certain events or believe certain incidents took place which are far from reality. 

An experiment conducted by Loftus revealed that individuals tend to retrieve information about events that never occurred when insinuated with false information. Weird isn’t it !? 

10. Phantom Vibration Syndrome

It’s a difficult task detaching oneself from the modern technology of phones and this is precisely one of the reasons why the phantom ringing or vibration syndrome occurs in which people feel or hear ringtones from their phones even when it doesn’t ring or vibrate.

It is a bizarre occurrence to which many are prone and is also termed ‘ringxiety’. 

11. Synesthesia

Have you ever, while jamming to a good song, suddenly visualized an image or a color out of nowhere? This is what synesthesia is in simple terms. When one sensory stimulus triggers another involuntary and instinctive sensory experience. 

Next time you experience this marvelous neurological phenomenon, you know what it is called. 

12. Rashomon Effect

What is the ‘truth’ for me might not be the ‘truth’ for you. Confusing? Well, this is exactly what the Rashomon or Kurosawa Effect is about. Often used in legal situations, it explains how people who witnessed the same event might interpret and present it in a completely different way.

Named after Akira Kurosawa’s crime movie ‘Rashomon’, the effect tells us how at times when people describe an incident differently, it isn’t necessarily because they are lying but maybe their different perceptions and experiences influenced their inference. 

13. Barnum Effect 

Barnum Effect, also known as the Forer Effect, explains how people when presented with a set of positive generic statements, that could be possibly true in the case of many people, tend to believe that it’s true specifically for them. This effect reveals how the human mind can be naive while attaching positive meaning to oneself, thinking it’s exclusively true for them. 

Next time you read your horoscope, maybe ask others if that set of information is true about them without letting them know that it’s your horoscope to reveal the true nature of this phenomenon. 

14. Capgras Syndrome

This syndrome, often termed the imposter syndrome, refers to a rare condition in which people are convinced that someone they are close to is replaced by an identical imposter. This delusion of doubles is not restricted to just people they attach value to but can happen with inanimate objects or animals as well. 

The condition makes the person inflexible to reason with. It comes under the spectrum of delusional misidentification syndrome. 

15. Cotard Syndrome

Buckle up for this one! Named after Jules Cotard, the neurologist who first reported and explained it, as its other name, the ‘walking-corpse syndrome’, suggests, it is a very rare syndrome in which people are convinced they are either dead or are dying as their body has no organs or is missing some! 

Our brain is an extremely powerful organ that can make us think and behave in extraordinary ways. It is time we stop underestimating the potential our brain holds and treat it as an integral part of us. It needs to be maintained healthy just like any other organ. Do not shy away from taking care of it!


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