Seeing faces on everyday objects, which is a phenomenon called “pareidolia”, is a pretty normal experience for a human being. But why does this occur? This paper published in the journal Psychological Science explains the reason.
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Dr. Palmer [the lead researcher] says to answer this question we need to look at what face perception involves. While human faces all look a bit different, they share common features, like the spatial arrangement of the eyes and the mouth.
“This basic pattern of features that defines the human face is something that our brain is particularly attuned to, and is likely to be what draws our attention to pareidolia objects. But face perception isn’t just about noticing the presence of a face. We also need to recognize who that person is, and read information from their face, like whether they are paying attention to us, and whether they are happy or upset.”
Put it simply, the same mechanisms that help us identify faces also process the “faces” that we see on objects.
Know more about pareidolia, and where this phenomenon may have come from, over at Medical Xpress.
(Image Credit: Ronnie MacDonald/ Wikimedia Commons)