Pavlonian coincidence | Seth’s Blog


There are two kinds of coincidences.

The first is the one that we often talk about. It’s the make-believe magic of two things occurring that we didn’t expect to occur. When you and your long-lost college roommate end up randomly sharing adjacent bowling lanes when you’re 72–that’s a coincidence. When the world expert on the obscure Discs of Tron videogame finds a pristine example abandoned at the end of a driveway near his mom’s house We invent all sorts of reasons for these events, but they’re simply random.

The other kind matters far more. This is when we get two unrelated incidents confused because they happened nearby in time. If you were drinking your first ever kombucha when you heard that your cat died, it might be that in the future, seeing a can of kombucha prompts you to be sad. The events are co-incident.

As our lives speed up and the number of inputs increases, it’s easier than ever to have events in proximity prompt instincts or expectations that are unrelated to what they actually created.

That’s one reason why marketers work so hard to have their products or ads show up in times of our lives when we’re likely to associate them with feelings that lead to consumption. It’s not a random coincidence, it’s simply an incident that was planned in advance.

Ring a bell?


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