“The Mandela Effect and how your mind is playing tricks on you”

“The Mandela Effect and how your mind is playing tricks on you”


Often times people recall something that they later find out is incorrect. The “Mandela Effect” is used to explain the phenomenon coined soon after Nelson Mandela died. It is described in the article as being “convinced that something is a particular way only to discover you’ve remembered it all wrong”. The article offers both psychological and pseudoscientific explanations for this effect, but those with cognitive influence will be the focus of this post.

The article (TheConversation.com) states that many psychologists explain this effect using “memory and social effects-particularly false memories”. These kind of memories occur when you remember details that are inaccurate or made up completely. There is even a model for another way in which false memories can form. This model is called the Deese-Roediger and McDermott paradigm. They say that when learning related words some false recognition of related, but not present words occur. For instance, if the words cat, dog, and bird were learned, false remembrance of the word turtle may occur. The recency (remembering last few items) or the primacy (remembering first few items) may play a part in this as well. Other causes of the “Mandela Effect” according to the article could be incorrect recall and a unique process called “effort after meaning”. Both of these processes are schema (knowledge) based and have heavy influence on memory.

This article discusses many cognitive processes related to how one remembers and how much one remembers. Factors mentioned such as word correlation, timing, and consistency all can play a part in the accuracy of one’s recall and determine if it is correct or incorrect. The conclusion of the article discusses what happens if one continues to remember memories under false pretense, a distorted collective reality. As long as the inaccuracies remain limited and “trivial” no major damage will occur.

One limitation vaguely cited in this article was there consideration of pseudoscientific attribution to the “Mandela Effect”. Though paired with some quantum physics, “the notion of parallel universes” is thought provoking, but audacious. Theories solely based on pseudoscience are often encouraged to pair with other theories of a psychological basis.

In my experience with one example used in the text specifically, the “Mandela Effect” has occured to me. My entire childhood growing up until the very moment I read the article actually, I believe that the Queen in Snow White said, “Mirror, mirror on the wall”, when according to this article she actually said “magic mirror on the wall”. Talk about the shock of my life. I also have had moments when I believed I knew/remembered a detail from a past occurrence of some sort, just to later find out from someone who recalled the instance more accurately than I that what I remembered was either completely or partially incorrect. Both of these experiences have occurred numerous times throughout the span of my life and I strongly believe that they both will continue to occur. Although, I could practice to decrease the probability.

One thought on ““The Mandela Effect and how your mind is playing tricks on you”

  1. scolon

    This post was really fun to read and think about, because it took me back to all the songs I used to listen to as a child and thought I knew the lyrics when in all reality I had no idea what they really were. For example a T Pain song growing up “All I do is Win” one of the lyrics was, “Everybody hands go up, and they stay there, and they say yeah” when my whole life I thought he was only saying, “and they stay there”. So I really relate to you talking about the evil queen from Snow White. I never really thought about the fact that I had also been guilty of “The Mandela Effect” until reading this. So really good job finding an interesting topic to talk about!

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