1. Thinking Your Memory Is Great
Memory isn’t like a video camera, carefully preserving events exactly as they occur. It’s much more fragile, inaccurate, and susceptible to influence than you may believe. For example, research shows it’s surprisingly easy to make someone have false memories of events that did not really occur. In one study, scientists found watching a video of other people do something actually led participants to believe that they had performed the task themselves.
We also tend to forget enormous amounts of information, from trivial details we run into every day to important information that we need. Memory expert Elizabeth Loftus suggests that there are a few major reasons behind these memory failures. Failing to retrieve the information from memory, falling victim to competing memories, failing to store information in memory, and purposely forgetting painful memories are just a few of the possible underlying causes of forgetfulness.
2. Over-Focusing On Social Cues
If you have social anxiety, your brain may be playing tricks on you all the time. This one little trick your brain plays, however, happens to a lot of people to varying degrees.
According to professionals, the brains of people with social anxiety over-focus on social cues, meaning that the brain will notice small social instances, like if someone laughs as they walk past, which would in-turn cause a socially anxious person to automatically assume that the person must be laughing at them, instead of at something else. The brain may point out if a stranger sniffs or frowns as they walk past, leading a socially anxious person to feel disapproved of or judged., etc.
3. Playing The Blame Game
When something bad happens, it is only natural for our brains to look for something to blame it on. However, sometimes our brain will twist reality around in order protect our own self-esteem or others around us.
Researchers believe that we engage in the “blame game” due to many of our attributional biases function as a way to protect our self-esteem and guard us from the fear of failure. According to researchers, bad things happen to you because of things around you that are usually outside of your control.
4. Taking Shortcuts
We’re all a little guilty of taking mental shortcuts sometimes, but when trying to solve a problem or make a decision, your mind will often fall back on rules of thumb or solutions that have worked well in the past. In many cases, this is a useful and effective approach that will enlist some type of shortcut that allows you to make decisions quickly without having to laboriously sort through each and every possible solution. However, sometimes these mental shortcuts, also known as heuristics, can easily trip you up and cause you to make mistakes.
5. Making It Seem That Horoscopes Are Specifically About You
The Forer effect, which is named after the psychologist who discovered it, is when our brain will automatically think something (usually a general statement) applies to ourselves, even when it doesn’t.
Bertram Forer, during his discovery told his class he was giving everyone a statement about themselves to read. The class marked the statements for accuracy, giving them 4.26 out of 5 on average. Then, he revealed afterwards that all of the statements were the same. The statements read things like, “You have a great need for other people to like and admire you,” and, “While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them,” which, could potentially apply to most people that are reading the them, while of course, still managing to sound specific. These statements are basically how horoscopes manage to sound scarily accurate for many people around the world.
6. Making You See, Hear and Taste Things That Aren’t There
Your brain can do some pretty amazing things, but did you know that you can hallucinate with any of your senses, not just vision?
According to one study conducted in 1996, consisting of nearly 5,000 people, just over a third of people experience hallucinations before going to sleep at night, while one in eight people who participated in the study noted that they get them as they’re waking up in the morning.
Hallucinations are more common in people with sleep disorders like insomnia and people with mental illnesses. But not all hallucinations are related to mental illness, and hallucinations relating to smell and taste are most common.