The illusory correlation is the perception of thinking we see a correlation between two different things when really none exists. This is something we, as human beings do naturally and it is an inescapable fact of everyday life. In our text on page 58 and 59, we are given several examples of illusory correlations, such as the baseball player Wade Boggs who ate chicken before every game he played believing that it would make him a more successful hitter. Another example was the illusory correlation between nights where there were full moons and increased crime activity. A full moon doesn't necessarily cause crime rates to increase, people just are more prone to recognize it when they have something to relate it too, such as the moon being full. Crime happens just as often on non full moon nights and there are plenty of full moons that go by where crime doesn't happen as much.
Superstitions also have a lot to do with illusory correlation. A belief in superstitions gives people an illusion of control in an uncertain world. Many superstitions originated at a time when little was known about how the physical world functions. Human beings will always seek to understand their surroundings and will interpret life by that understanding. There are several well known superstitions about luck, health, and fortune. It is said that is lucky to find a four leaf clover or to carry a rabbit's foot with you. On the other hand, it is unlucky to walk under a ladder or to pick up a coin that isn't heads up.
Finally, the illusory correlation comes into play when dealing with stereotypes as well. Stereotypes are generalizations, or assumptions, that people make about the characteristics of all members of a group, based on an image about what people in that group are like. People are constantly stereotyping. We make these stereotypes based on preconceived ideas we have on different races of people, gender, age, cultures, anything. We just put things into already formed categories in our minds so quickly, we don't really give new people or ideas a chance to prove they aren't like the rest or like that idea we have in our heads. Stereotyping is unfair and wrong because of the fact it doesn't give people a chance to make a true name for themselves or prove preconceived thoughts of them or their group wrong. Here are several well known stereotypes....