Visual Illusions

Hello everyone!

I found a really interesting visual illusion that I would like to share.Screen shot 2014-07-25 at 1.52.34 PM


Above you can see two faces. Our brains are very used to perceiving faces and recognizing people. This illusion was created by psychologist Richard Russell from the University of Gettysburg. According to him, the left face is perceived as being a female face, while the right face is perceived as being a male face. Can you see it? The weird thing is that the two faces are actually identical! It is the same androgynous face. The only difference between the two faces is that the contrast between the eyes, lips and the rest of the face on the left is greater. The contrast on the left was increased while the contrast on the right was decreased. This creates the illusion that we are looking at a female on the left and a male on the right. This optical illusion demonstrates that impact of contrast on our vision is very important in perceiving the sex of a face. We unconsciously use contrast in order to differentiate between men and women!

I found this information very interesting. According to Russell, this optical illusion explains why cosmetics make women look more feminine. Lipsticks and eyeliners magnify the contrast between the eyes and lips and the rest of the face. The cosmetics industry is huge and it has developed because of this aspect of our visual system. Cosmetics exaggerate this contrast in order to make a female face appear more “feminine”. It is interesting that two identical faces with such a small difference as contrast can be perceived as so widely different by our brain. According to Russell, beauty is actually not skin-deep, it goes as far as the brain!


4 responses to “Visual Illusions”

  1. Fabiana Vilsan says:

    Bonus Question: I think that the reason that the optical illusion works is that our eyes are fatigued after looking at the optical illusion of the constantly changing blurry shapes. After we take our eyes off the illusion, non-moving images appear to be still moving as they try to regain their initial state.

  2. Dhruv Mohnot says:

    I found it interesting how you tied in the illusion’s effect on the brain to the cosmetics industry! That was a very neat connection.

  3. Madiha Shafquat says:

    Your comments about the cosmetic industry are very interesting. I wonder if this works the same on people regardless of their background: it might suggest that there is a ‘universal’ standard for feminine beauty.

  4. Carlos Aizenman says:

    Check this out, by sliding the top slider from male to female we can change our perception of the figure:

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