December 5, 2023

The Frequency Illusion: Why You’ll Probably Hear the Name Baader-Meinhof Again Soon

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon– likewise called the frequency illusion– explains our tendency to see something for the very first time and then suddenly to see it all over.
You heard a fantastic tune for the first time the other day and all of a sudden youre hearing it all over you go– in the cars and truck, at the supermarket, at your finest pals 4th of July barbecue. And now youve started seeing advertisements for the groups new album everywhere you look. In all likelihood, you are experiencing the frequency illusion.
What is the frequency illusion?
The frequency impression– also understood as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon– explains our propensity to discover something for the very first time and then suddenly to see it everywhere, offering us the impression that its originated from no place and taken control of the world. In reality, it only appears to be everywhere because were noticing it more. The predisposition is also in some cases described as “red (or blue) vehicle syndrome” in honor of individuals who have chosen to purchase a red (or blue) vehicle to stand apart from the crowd, only to find themselves surrounded by vehicles of the same color.
The bias does not use to things like popular motion pictures or clothing, or hot topics in the news, simply to more odd things that you would not expect to see or hear about that frequently.

How everything began
The first recognized report of the bias goes back to 1994, when Terry Mullen published a discuss the St. Paul Pioneer Press online discussion board mentioning that he had been speaking with a buddy about the once-notorious West German terrorist Baader-Meinhof group that was active in the 1970s, and the next day his buddy had referred him to an article in the newspaper in which the left-wing terrorist organization was mentioned, decades after it had any factor to be in the news. Numerous other readers then shared that they d had the very same sort of experiences, and, for lack of a better term, the concept ended up being understood as Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. [1]
Twelve years later, Arnold Swicky, professor of linguistics at Stanford University, created the more scientifically accepted term, “the frequency impression.” [2] How it works
The frequency impression is the result of 2 interacting mental biases– selective attention, noticing things that are (currently) crucial to us and overlooking the rest; and verification predisposition, looking for information that supports our hypotheses and disregarding info that does not.
Selective attention [3] is what permits us to make it through the day without suffering from information overload. We are constantly being subjected to a barrage of sensory information however its just not possible to take it all in, so our brains have actually established the ability to concentrate on certain elements of our environment while filtering the rest out. When we are exposed to brand-new info that we find fascinating, our brains take notice and begin to look for more examples of this remarkable newly-learned information.
Because we think were seeing or hearing something over and over, we focus on paying attention to that thing rather than to anything else. Now we notice it even more, and this verifies our belief that we truly are seeing or hearing this new piece of information all over.
This seems weird, so we justify it by telling ourselves that whatever it is that has actually caught our attention has actually suddenly popped up all over the place, and lots of individuals are finding it at the very same time. The frequency impression is typically accompanied by the recency impression, likewise coined by Zwicky, which is the belief that something we have seen just recently is, in truth, recent. The fact is, its most likely been around for ages; weve just stopped overlooking it
Compounding the issue is our inability to wrap our heads around the idea of randomness. Our brains are evolutionary wired to look for patterns, and we are predisposed to discover them. Each time we acknowledge a pattern, we are rewarded with a hit of dopamine. This means we tend to discover them even when they do not exist, like when we believe were delighting in a winning streak at the live roulette table or seeing religious faces burned into toast. This is called apophenia or patternicity, [5] and while our pattern-spotting talent is extremely helpful for finding out, it can also make us associate excessive importance to unremarkable events.
Thinking about the number of different little bits of details we are exposed to in any given day, it shouldnt be surprising that we in some cases encounter the very same thing again within a brief period of time. We tend to grossly underestimate the likelihood of coincidences They actually take place a lot; we simply do not observe them many of the time since our attention is directed elsewhere. Our intuition informs us that such a description is inadequate. The truth that we just learned about something the other day and now were seeing it all over feels like more than simple coincidence. Its like the principle of synchronicity, [6] a term created by the psychoanalyst Carl Jung that refers to our propensity to believe that random events are more meaningful than they actually are, like when we think about somebody we havent thought about for a long time and then encounter them the next day. Both kinds of phenomena surprise us and make us question the chances of such a thing taking place. As it turns out, theyre much higher than you think. [7]
The frequency impression is thought about rather safe, although seeing the same individual or hearing the exact same thing over and over might be problematic for people with psychological health problems such as schizophrenia or fear.
The illusion can likewise be misused to secure our vote or make us part with our money by online marketers and press agents [8] who know that, when we observe something a lot, we tend to think its more crucial or popular than it in fact is, and for that reason bombard us with posts and adverts to get our attention.
If a physician learns of a rare medical condition and then begins to believe they can see it in a number of more of their clients, the bias could likewise be problematic. Then once again, they could be right. Take, for example, medical trainee Kush Purohit who found out of bovine aortic arch condition and after that correctly recognized three more cases within a day. He even composed a paper [9] about it.
How to prevent it.
The frequency illusion is another example of a cognitive bias that you cant avoid; you can just be conscious that it happens. You can decrease the result by being more mindful of your surroundings, and when something does catch your attention and you begin seeing referrals to it all over, you just have to remind yourself that you are probably simply observing it for the first time.
References: blog/science-behind-why- new-customers-ignore-you/.

The frequency impression– likewise known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon– describes our propensity to observe something for the very first time and then all of a sudden to see it everywhere, providing us the impression that its come from nowhere and taken over the world. Because we think were hearing or seeing something over and over, we focus on paying attention to that thing rather than to anything else. Now we observe it even more, and this confirms our belief that we really are seeing or hearing this brand-new piece of information all over.
The truth that we simply discovered about something yesterday and now were seeing it all over feels like more than mere coincidence. The predisposition could likewise be bothersome if a physician learns of an unusual medical condition and then starts to think they can see it in several more of their clients.