When Not In Control, People Imagine Order New research shows that when people perceive they have no control over a given situation, they are more likely to see illusions, patterns where none exist and even believe in conspiracy theories. The study suggests that people impose imaginary order when no real order can be perceived.
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When Not In Control, People Imagine Order

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When Not In Control, People Imagine Order

When Not In Control, People Imagine Order

When Not In Control, People Imagine Order

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More On The Research

New research shows that when people perceive they have no control over a given situation, they are more likely to see illusions, patterns where none exist and even believe in conspiracy theories. The study suggests that people impose imaginary order when no real order can be perceived.

"People see false patterns in all types of data," says Jennifer Whitson, one of the authors of the report, "...This suggests that lacking control leads to a visceral need for order — even imaginary order."

Whitson is an assistant professor of management at the McCombs School of Business in the University of Texas-Austin.

Above are two images used in the study. Under normal conditions, most participants saw a picture of Saturn in the image on the left. When participants felt they were not in control, they reported seeing Saturn in the image on the right as well, even though there is no picture there. Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky hide caption

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Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky