‘The Duck Syndrome’ And 4 Other Psychological Phenomena You May Have Unknowingly Experienced


The human mind is a fascinating labyrinth that’s both ordered and complex. Within this maze lies the origins of thought, imagination, perception, will and memory. The ways of the mind are difficult to make sense of in general but sometimes certain phenomena truly make us question everything we think we know about ourselves and the world. Here are 5 such interesting psychological phenomena that you’ve probably not heard of, but possibly experienced.

1. The Duck Syndrome 

A word coined by Stanford University, the duck syndrome originates from the idea of a duck seeming to glide effortlessly above the water, but below, it’s frantically paddling to stay afloat. Just like the duck, many of us put up a front of being calm and put together on the outside, but only we know the struggle that goes on behind the scenes. The duck syndrome is a two-way street—sometimes when you scroll through social media and wonder how everyone else’s life looks perfect? Well, they’re probably just trying their best to make it through the week.

2. Dunning-Kruger Effect 

Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias described by social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger which states that people with low ability at a task tend to overestimate their skills, while the people with high ability underestimate themselves. As British mathematician, Bertrand Russell put it, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

3. The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Also known as frequency illusion, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon occurs when you stumble upon a new piece of information, maybe a new word or concept and suddenly, it seems to crop up everywhere you go. Let’s say your friend just told you about a really obscure old-school music group today morning. Come afternoon and you notice songs by this band in your recommended playlist by Spotify and…. hold on, is that guy on the bus wearing the same band’s merchandise? It might seem like you’re the target of a hidden camera prank, but in reality, it’s just the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

4. Synesthesia

This one in particular might not be as common as the others on the list, in fact, it almost sounds fictional. Synesthesia is a condition that causes senses to overlap. Simply put, synesthetes can taste words, see sounds, hear colours etc.  There are numerous variations of synesthesia and can differ from person to person. Famous artists with this ability include celebrities like Beyonce, Alessia Cara, Billie Eilish, Kanye West and many more.

5. The Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where multiple people remember events, images, sayings etc from the past, differently than they actually are. It’s named after Nelson Mandela who passed away in 2013 but countless people swear they remember him dying in prison in the 1980s. Here’s a test for you- When the evil queen from snow white looked into her mirror, what did she say? “Mirror mirror on the wall”…..nope, what she actually said was “Magic mirror on the wall”.

- Digital Editor


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