20 Strange Phenomenon of the Mind That’ll Baffle You


1Déjà vu

Déjà vu

Déjà vu literally meaning “already seen”, is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past. The experience is usually accompanied by a strong sense of familiarity and a sense of eeriness, strangeness, or weirdness. The “previous” experience is usually attributed to a dream, but sometimes there is a firm sense that it has truly occurred in the past.

2Overview effect

Overview effect

Of all the psychological effects ever named, observed, and studied, the overview effect has to be in the running for the least common. Only astronauts have ever experienced the conditions that lead to it. When astronauts in orbit or on the surface of the moon first see the Earth in its entirety, many reports feeling a deep sense of scale and perspective that has come to be called the overview effect. The effect can be deeply moving, confusing, inspiring, and emotionally challenging, as a view of the entire Earth changes one’s perspective in a profound way. Astronauts have returned home with a renewed sense of the way we’re all connected, of the relative meaninglessness of cultural boundaries, and a desire to take care of the Earth’s environment.

3Pratfall effect

Pratfall effect

In social psychology, the pratfall effect is the tendency for attractiveness to increase or decrease after an individual makes a mistake, depending on the individual’s perceived ability to perform well in a general sense. A perceived able individual would be, on average, more likable after committing a blunder, while the opposite would occur if a perceived average person makes a mistake.

4Bystander effect

Bystander effect

Bystander effect also known as bystander apathy, is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.

5Spotlight effect

Spotlight effect

Spotlight effect is the tendency to overestimate the amount that other people notice your appearance or behavior. The reasoning behind the spotlight effect comes from the innate tendency to forget that although one is the center of one’s own world, one is not the center of everyone else’s. Many professionals in social psychology encourage people to be conscious of the spotlight effect and to allow this phenomenon to moderate the extent to which one believes one is in a social spotlight.

6Focusing effect

Focusing effect

Anchoring or Focusing effect is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions. During decision making, anchoring occurs when individuals use an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments. For example, the initial price offered for a used car sets the standard for the rest of the negotiations, so that prices lower than the initial price seem more reasonable even if they are still higher than what the car is really worth.

7Cocktail party effect

Cocktail party effect

The cocktail party effect is the phenomenon of being able to focus one's auditory attention on a particular stimulus while filtering out a range of other stimuli. The effect enables people to talk in noisy locations. For example, when conversing at a musical concert, people can listen to the band and understand a friend all at the same time. They can also simultaneously ignore loud noises. Nevertheless, if someone calls out your name from across the room, people will notice.

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8Online disinhibition effect

Online disinhibition effect

Online disinhibition effect refers to the way people behave on the internet with less restraint than in real-world situations. Many people change their natural behavior online. It is an extremely powerful cognitive phenomenon that is represented by the loosening of social restrictions and inhibitions that would otherwise be present in normal face-to-face interaction. Because of the loss of inhibition, some internet users show extreme and emotional tendencies. Some people will become more affectionate and less guarded, speaking out to others about their feelings in an attempt to achieve emotional catharsis.

9Illusory superiority

Illusory superiority

Illusory superiority is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive abilities and underestimate their negative qualities in relation to others. It is a positive illusion that has been studied extensively in social psychology. Positive illusions have been described as human’s unrealistically favorable attitude toward themselves. There are three broad categories of positive illusions, inflated assessment of one’s own abilities, unrealistic optimism about the future and an illusion of control. Illusory superiority is often referred to as the above average effect. The above-average effect states that people regard themselves more positively and less negatively than others actually perceive them.

10Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is perhaps one of the weirdest and most unsettling findings in psychology. It is the idea that we find it hard to hold two contradictory beliefs, so we unconsciously adjust one to make it fit with the other. In the classic study, students found a boring task more interesting if they were paid less to take part. Our unconscious reasons like this: if I didn’t do it for money, then I must have done it because it was interesting. As if by magic, a boring task becomes more interesting because otherwise, I can’t explain my behavior.


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