Is it Coincidence?

Do you ever notice something, then it appears again and again? Or you just found out about something and suddenly it seems to crop up everywhere? Ever heard a name mentioned, or noticed a word, phrase or saying that resonated with you in some way, that you may not have heard before or not for some time, then lo and behold you hear it again later that day or the very next day?

Have you ever met someone new and then suddenly you bump into them again in a completely different place? That “We must stop meeting like this” feeling!

Have you ever driven your new car out for the first time and on your journey you seem to see lots of other cars of the same make, model or colour as yours, even though you may never really have noticed many of them on the roads before?

Why is that? Well, it’s not because there are more of this particular car around. You just rarely noticed them before.

There’s a name for that!

It’s what is known as the Baader-Meinhof syndrome, or sometimes it is called frequency or recency illusion. It is a psychological experience that happens when something you've just heard, seen or been told about reappears on a regular basis, making you think that all of a sudden this is something every man and his dog has or is talking about! That it has suddenly become the top must have or topic of conversation.

If you change your car, or gain a new possession, your brain adjusts, adding this particular model or item to its list of things to notice. It happens as things are brought to the forefront of your minds, because your sub-conscious mind is taking in so much information every second of every day, that it can be quite selective about what it allows you to pay attention to. In the past you would not have noticed this brand or colour of car or possession, as you had no reason to. But now it is yours, your brain adjusts and allows you to notice it.

And similarly, with that name, word or phrase… You hadn’t noticed it before, but when you do, and have spent some time pondering over it, your brain allows you to pay attention to it when you hear or see it again. It is almost as if your brain is holding this information in your most recently processed data, in an easily accessible space, an area for relevant things.

So, no it isn’t really coincidence - It really is a real thing that your brain does. Try this experiment - book a holiday, then see how many times your holiday destination seems to crop up on TV, in adverts, in conversation.....

You may be surprised.

Belinda Wells

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