Pattern recognition – Apophenia
I’ve just added to this article on pattern recognition, taken from my latest book.
Notice what this image reminds you of …
We will see it as a face, even though it has very little resemblance to any of the major elements of an actual face. No nose, pupils, faces aren’t actually circle shaped, etc
And the same applies to this ‘happy’ parking meter.
We naturally look for familiarity, seeing patterns everywhere, we just can’t seem to help it.
The trouble is we see patterns even when they aren’t really there, such as in the above examples.
Depending on what we are selectively ‘seeing’ in the world will give each of us different versions of the what’s going on around us. This can lead us down good and bad pathways.
Optimists and pessimists
Research suggests that choosing to see the good is a strong indicator of not just happiness but longevity and health. (Diener, E., & Chan, M. Y. (2011) Happy people live longer: Subjective well-being contributes to health and longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. 3(1), 1-43.)
So notice that when you look today for positive experience, you will find it – and this in turn will enhance your ability to recognise them even more of the time.
About Phil Parker
Phil specialises in the psychology of health, happiness and genius.