How The Mandela Effect Works? [Psychological reasons that makes sense]

Do you know that Darth Vader never says “Luke, I am your father.” He actually says, “No, I am your father.” Do you know that Curious George never had any tail, or do you know that Oreo double stuff spelled with one “f” (double stuf)?

That what people called the Mandela effect. The Mandela effect originates because people believe that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 80s. But in fact, Nelson Mandela just passed away almost 4 years ago on December 5. Now just like what I said in conspiracy theory post, pattern recognition is affecting us to make the possible explanation of that phenomenon.

Now many people believed that the Mandela effect happened because of our universe crossover with another universe by accident. There are some explanations about the Mandela effect in the world of psychology. Psychologist says that the Mandela effect caused because of our false memories and confabulation. Both of that concept explains the Mandela effect as faked or fabricated memories, that caused by many variables. But I think there is something that is missing from that reason. I knew that our brain is pretty bad at recalling memories. But I think it’s near impossible to fools billions and billions of people about things like double stuf or Luke, I am your father.

My theory is, that the Mandela effect is caused by concepts like Just noticeable difference, top-down process, and the famous Daniel Kahneman’s system 1. Just noticeable difference is the smallest or the range of change in order for the person to notify any, for example, if your laptop volume is 86, you need to lower the volume quite a bit to notice the volume difference, rather than you only need to turn down the volume just a little when your laptop volume is 14. There are actually few formulas that help us to measure the range of change. But we will not talk about that today.

System 1 is the effortless, automatic, and fast running activity that runs in your system. This is like counting 2+2, you know it instantly that the answer is 4. System 1 is full of feelings, ambiguities, and emotion that could be controlled by system 2 which is full of attention, effort, and logical activities.

So to explain the effect of that concept, I made this illustration :


Real stimulus = The stimulus which has some minor changes of what we believed now, that’s why the real stimulus difference is not noticeable by us. The real stimulus also usually unsynchronized with our known believed or our knowledge. Such as Curious George is a monkey, but Curious George doesn’t have a tail. Our knowledge tells us that monkeys have a tail. Another example is when Oreo spell stuff with one f. Our knowledge is that we spelled stuff with two f. So the unsynchronized stimulus doesn’t unsynchronized enough to get notified by us.


System 1 = This is the part when our brain process unnoticeable unsynchronized minor changes. This is the part that our brain automatically change what the minor change of the real stimulus to the stimulus that is acceptable by our known general memories.

Psychologist called that process Top-down processing. Top down processing is shown that our perception is a constructive process, that influenced by our memory/knowledge and our senses. Fro eaxpmle yuo cna raed tihs sracbmled wdros rhigt nwo, because you already know those vocabularies and your brain automatically fix and reorder these words so we could actually read it easily.

That’s why we automatically adding the tail in curious George even there is not, and that’s why my WordPress autocorrect system want to correct my stuf to stuff. Because if I write stufffffffffffffff instead of stuf, my WordPress autocorrect system will not even try to correct my word.

That process of changing minor change happened because we are not careful, effort,  and intentionally process that exposure. That’s why I think George Lucas and Mondelēz International (the company who make Oreos) not experiencing the Mandela effect of their own products. Because they purposely designed the line “No, I am your father” and the Oreo cookies.

If you want some evidence of the Mandela effect that not happened to the person that exposed with effort or intentionally check this video about people that have different reaction of the Mandela effects because of the frequency they exposed to the exposure. As you can see the more effort and the frequency people exposed to the exposure the less possibility the Mandela effect will happen or experienced to them.

So this process also the reason of some Mandela effects like the febreeze that actually spelled febreze with one “e”. Because people say it like saying the word breeze rather than the word breze, so our mind automatically changes our perspective to see what our mind already know which is Febreze.

The rest is the perceived stimulus and memories. When the stimulus already going through our system 1, the stimulus becomes memories and beliefs. Perceived stimulus could be worsened by false memories and confabulation.

So what do you think about this post? What is your opinion about the Mandela effect? Tell us in the comment box below!


Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Mandela effect. (n.d.). Retrieved August 01, 2017, from

Confabulation. (2017, July 30). Retrieved August 01, 2017, from

False memory. (2017, July 29). Retrieved August 01, 2017, from

Just-noticeable difference. (2017, July 09). Retrieved August 01, 2017, from

Cherry, K. (n.d.). What Is Top-Down Processing? Retrieved August 04, 2017, from

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