Have you ever glanced at a piece of fruit or a tree and seen a face looking back at you? Do you find your brain rearranging pieces of buildings or objects into happy faces (or grumpy faces)? Or maybe you’ve seen clouds in the shape of a familiar person?
You might know that there’s a name for this. It’s called ‘pareidolia’ and it’s a type of illusion that’s very common and natural for human brains. Scientists believe it’s to do with the way we struggle to make sense of the world – we try to find familiar shapes and order wherever we can. (Read more about this, and some of the studies, at the BBC’s “Neuroscience: Why Do We See Faces in Everyday Objects?”)
Here are a couple of (slightly hairy) examples:
And if you Google ‘pareidolia’, you’ll see lots of other great images, including some spooky ones and many stunning clouds. You might also come across the “50 Funniest Faces in Everyday Objects“.
It’s fascinating to see how our brains work. It could also inspire a lot of stories. Disney Pixar’s Cars, the movie, is an example of the way this has been used in fiction. Who hasn’t looked at a car and seen the headlights as eyes, or noticed an ‘evil’ looking car and a ‘kinder’ one? (Um, well, I think you can tell that I have!)
Have you ever seen faces in unusual places? I’d love to know!
P.S. Huge thanks to Isapop of Isapop’s Mini Reviews for suggesting the topic of this post!
And thanks to Xololounge (scribbled smile), Pippalou (coconuts), RalphGL (car) and Veggiegretz (tree) at Morguefile for the images.