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Mandela Effect

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The Mandela Effect refers to a situation in which a large mass of people believes that an event occurred when it did not. Looking at the origin of the Mandela effect, some famous examples, as well as some potential explanations for this strange confluence of perceptions can help to shed light on this unique phenomenon.

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Psychologists explain the Mandela Effect via memory and social effects – particularly false memory. This involves mistakenly recalling events or experiences that have not occurred, or distortion of existing memories. The unconscious manufacture of fabricated or misinterpreted memories is called confabulation. In everyday life confabulation is relatively common. There’s a theory online that nuclear research experiments caused the world to shift into an alternate reality where Donald Trump became president

Shutterstock Memory inaccuracy can also arise from what’s known as “source monitoring errors”. These are instances where people fail to distinguish between real and imagined even. US professor of psychology, Jim Coan, demonstrated how easily this can happen using the “Lost in the Mall” procedure. This saw Coan give his family members short narratives describing childhood events. One, about his brother getting lost in a shopping mall, was invented. Not only did Coan’s brother believe the event occurred, he also added additional detail.

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Our brain’s capability to dramatically alter the real events in our perception post factum allows us to both forget some events and substitute them with others. This can apply, in particular, to traumatic memories

By changing the traumatic ones to neutral, people might try to cope with negative experiences. On the other hand, as the experiments above have demonstrated, people could also be artificially traumatized by false memories. Counseling psychologists should be especially attentive to such matters. (Loftus, E. F., Coan, J., Pickrell, J. E. (1996). The study of false memories in humans and their formation can be helpful in various areas, from general psychology theory to forensic psychology and psychotherapeutic counseling. It is important to remember that people’s memories of actual events are always modified to certain extent by information that follows. It will not always result in generation of false memories, but it surely can. (Bjorklund, D. F. (2000)) That is why it is especially important to understand the nature of false memories, understand their origin, and be able to distinguish them from the real ones.

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In brief, the mandela effect is common and today there are several examples on social media

There are also many scientific theories surrounding this phenomenon. The question i leave you with is : Is there a scientific reason behind this, is it a conspiracy theory, or is just a common human error?

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Bjorklund, D. F. (2000). False-memory Creation in Children and Adults: Theory, Research, and Implications. Psychology Press.

Brainerd, C. J., Reyna, V. F. (2005). The Science of False Memory. Oxford University Press.

Coan, J. A. (1997). Lost in a Shopping Mall: An Experience with Controversial Research. Ethics & Behavior, 7(3): 271-284.

Conway, M. A. (1997). Recovered Memories and False Memories. Oxford University Press.

Loftus, E. F., Coan, J., Pickrell, J. E. (1996). Manufacturing false memories using bits of reality. In Reder, Lynne M., ed. Implicit Memory and Metacognition. Lawrence Erlbaum.

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