Discover more from Mental Models Weekly
Mental Models - Frequency Illusion 🚗
We can’t possibly take in the huge amount of information coming at us… and so what we perceive is biased.
What is the Frequency Illusion?
The frequency illusion is a cognitive bias that occurs after you notice something for the first time. You then have a tendency to notice it more often. This leads you to think that thing has an increased frequency of occurring, but it’s just an increased frequency of you perceiving it.
In simpler words, your attention is very selective.
For me, the classic example about cars rings true. Every time I have decided to buy a certain make and model of car it’s been surprising to see how many other people have the same car all of a sudden! Of course it’s not the case that there are more of these cars appearing, it’s just what I am perceiving has suddenly shifted. I’m no longer filtering out all the Volkswagens - I’m noticing them.
Why is this interesting?
The Frequency Illusion gives us incredible insight into our perception. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we see ALL the information coming to us from the world around us. But in reality our brains are heavily filtering what we perceive!
The brain is exposed to an incredible amount of information, and we cannot absorb every detail. The brain decides what to focus on and what to discard.
The Selective Attention Test is a really cool experiment that demonstrates how strongly attention shapes our perceptions.
I guess one of the lessons is to be careful what you pay attention to - because you probably will see more of it!
Want to go deeper?
💎 It definitely gives credence to Jim Rohn’s gem:
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
📖 I’m still getting through the mind bender The Case Against Reality which seem related to all these perception related models.
🔖 The Frequency Illusion is sometimes known as Baader–Meinhof phenomenon, selective attention bias or frequency bias.
🧠 Build your latticework! Revisit related mental models:
👉 Enjoy this newsletter? I'd love you to share it with a friend!