Why unexpected things attract our attention



  • 1 The brain filters repetitive signals

    The brain reduces the load on its cells by filtering repetitive signals. When an unexpected thing happens it grabs our attention as the brain pays extra attention to it (See also why we like novel things).

  • 2 Unexpected things make us laugh

    According to psychology, one of the things that make some jokes funny is that they have unexpected twists (See what makes a joke funny).

  • 3 What is predictable can be boring

    A predictable thing can be considered boring. If a person knows everything about something or if they can predict everything about it then they can easily get bored.

  • 4 Unexpected rewards are addicting

    According to addiction psychology, unexpected rewards are one of the important components of addiction (See also what makes a game addictive

  • 5 The low expectations increase happiness

    As a person gets suddenly surprised by a reward they didn't anticipate, they become happy. Expectations can sometimes lower happiness levels or even cause disappointment. 

  • 6 People get attracted to mysterious ones

    According to attraction psychology, people find mysterious ones much more attractive than predictable ones.

  • 7 The pleasure center in the brain gets more active

    In one study it was found that the pleasure center in the brain becomes more active when a person gets subjected to an unexpected reward.

  • 8 They let us anticipate more rewards

    When a person gets an unexpected reward they might start anticipating more rewards thus releasing more dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical released when people anticipate rewards and it's responsible for the excitement and pleasure people get when they expect something good.

  • 9 Our moods depend on the rewards we expect

    Our moods greatly depend on the rewards we expect. When something pleasant happens unexpectedly our mood gets a strong boost because the pleasure wasn't anticipated.