The Visual Mandela Effect as evidence for shared and specific false memories across people
The Mandela Effect is an internet phenomenon describing shared and consistent false memories for specific icons in popular culture. The Visual Mandela Effect (VME) is a Mandela Effect specific to visual icons (e.g., the Monopoly Man is falsely remembered with a monocle) and has not yet been empirically quantified or tested. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate that certain images from popular iconography elicit consistent, specific false memories. In Experiment 2, using eye-tracking-like methods, we find no attentional or visual differences that drive this phenomenon. There is no clear difference in the natural visual experience of these images (Experiment 3), and these VME-errors also occur spontaneously during recall (Experiment 4). These results demonstrate that there are certain images for which people consistently make the same false memory error, despite the majority of visual experience being the canonical image.