The Mandela Effect and its Influence

For those who are avid or even casual enjoyers of peanut butter, it can be pretty hard to believe that anyone could think Jif peanut butter was spelled Jiffy. For those whose favorite book series was the Berenstain Bears, it probably sounds absurd to hear people think it was the Berenstein Bears. And most notably, for anyone who was personally affected by Nelson Mandela and his advocacy, it is aggravating to hear people think he died in 1980.

This is the Mandela Effect. Mass misrememberings of things that have clear and simple answers. And while for the most part it’s a harmless and innocent collection of people who remember an event or name wrong, it is indicative of a lot more. And though the person who coined the name “The Mandela Effect” thought it was a large-scale government conspiracy or break in the universe, the real answer is simultaneously far more tame but far more interesting.

Psychology is the answer to the myth of the Mandela Effect. Although humans all like to believe they have perfect infallible minds, the reality is each person is constantly being influenced by those around them, their personal conceptions, and things as little as how much sleep they got last night. 

Psychological phenomena like Asch conformity describe how people tailor their beliefs to fit their identifying groups’ identities. It only takes one little suggestion to shift how one remembers something as small as the Berenstain Bears. And while some examples have grown to invade all of the media, things like Darth Vader saying “Luke, I am your father”, something he never said. For the most part it’s a harmless mishap in someone’s memory.

Mandela Effect
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