Why Do You See Your Car Everywhere After Buying It?
You recently bought a car you wouldn’t consider a “common” model, but now you’re seeing it everywhere you go. You went from passing it on the street or in a parking lot once a week to three times a day now. It’s enough to make you feel like you’re going crazy!
Why do you see your car everywhere after you buy it? Science actually has an answer for this, and it involves the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
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The psychology behind seeing your new car everywhere after you buy it
According to science, there hasn’t been an increase in the number of that particular car around you — you just rarely noticed it before.
Your subconscious can be quite selective in what it gives attention to or ignores without you realizing it (go read about the invisible gorilla test). You’re bombarded with information all around you every single second — just think about how many items are in your vicinity at this moment you’re not actively staring about. Your brain has to be judicious in what it lets through.
For instance, when you’re driving to work, your brain largely ignores the hoards of varying models you pass. Once you purchase a new car and it’s under your possession, your brain adjusts, adding the particular model to its list of things to notice.
Psychologists call this the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon; more commonly, they refer to it as frequency illusion. Now that your brain has taken note of your new car, it will alert you when it sees it elsewhere — on the road, on TV, in conversations, etc. The human mind strives to identify patterns in the chaos of daily life and uses a confirmation bias to affirm that this car is everywhere suddenly, when it was around long before you noticed it.
Bottom line: No, people in your neighborhood didn’t go out and buy the same car as you just because they were inspired by your brilliant choice in transportation.
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Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.