In my current Social Psychology class with Coursera, I learn about ‘Illusory Correlation’ – a perception of a relationship where none exists. People easily misperceive random events as confirming their beliefs (Crocker, 1981).
This is a phenomenon which has happened to me and although I am aware of Illusory Correlation, I am nonetheless grateful for the coincidence when I needed it most.
It happened in August, just last month. I noticed that my youngest son Aaron had been spending excessive time on the PC and on his Samsung S3, looking at a Youtube program of a game going on. He assured me that his time on the PC was for homework, and I chose to believe him. Imagine my betrayal when I caught him watching Youtube despite the fact that he had told me he needed to do his homework and thus insisted that we needed to go home early, as a result disrupting my time spent with my sister on her last week in town. I gave him a stern warning but when I returned barely five minutes later, he was still watching. He got punished and his PC time and phone were taken away. I also contacted his teachers and wanted to know his progress at school. Needless to say, his performance was below expectation. Having been through similar experiences with his two elder brothers, you would think I know what to do but I felt helpless. I reminded him of his goals and the opportunities given to him. He was nonchalant about it.
Just then, the school I was volunteering in organized a parenting talk on Cyber Wellness, specifically Engaging the IT & Smartphone Generation. The speaker, from Touch Cyber Wellness, gave us tips on what to do. What was comforting, even as I am fully aware of it, was that many parents share the same problems. We were in the same group. We were also given a handbook which was really helpful. The speaker, who is also a counselor, told us that if you think your child doesn’t seem to be able to judge what’s best for himself, it’s because his frontal cortex is not fully developed and won’t be until he is in his twenties. (:()
The talk was really helpful, and as if there was a coordinated plan to help me further, Aaron’s school organized a student led conference last week where the students set goals, did a self-evaluation on their strength and weakness, discuss their work ethics, and presented it all in a portfolio for the parents. It was a pleasure hearing Aaron reaffirmed his goals and told us how he was going to improve without me nagging further.
‘Illusory Correlation’ or coincidence?
Another case. I had been practicing meditation for a year until April this year when I stopped after my piles surgery (couldn’t sit, so couldn’t meditate). I had been planning to get back but with so many things going on, I did not pursue, until Oprah and Deepak wrote me an email to say that they were starting another 21-days meditation course. I signed up immediately, as the short meditation session (10 minutes) was just right to re-enter into a habit. After 21 days, I tried to continue but with no one leading, it was futile. At that moment (last week), my ex-yoga teacher, who was running a meditation centre in Amman, Jordan, returned for a visit and conducted a meditation class for my yoga class. Her class was recorded on Youtube, and she encouraged us to practice using this recording.
‘Illusory Correlation’ or coincidence? Law of Attraction? Whichever it is, I am grateful for the help.