Pareidolia: why we see faces everywhere | Adriana

Pareidolia: why we see faces everywhere


Is it just me, or does this dry seed hanging from a tree branch make you think of Edvard Munch's iconic painting too?

According to the Oxford dictionary, pareidolia is "[t]he perception of apparently significant patterns or recognizable images, especially faces, in random or accidental arrangements of shapes and lines". Basically, it's our tendency to see faces everywhere.

Inanimate objects, buildings, shadows, clouds and even the moon all seem to be fertile ground for our imagination to break loose and create human features where no humans are to be found.

This BBC article explains the science behind the phenomenon, detailing how our brains may indeed be wired to look for human-like attributes in the world around them.

This cool yet mind-boggling tendency has found its way to social media and Yoors is no exception, as the hashtag #faceseverywhere illustrates.


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Naturally, photographers have picked up on this phenomenon, and a website called Digital Photography School encourages photography enthusiasts to explore it as new way to engage with their craft.

But our imagination can extend even beyond the human figure.


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That is why this broken window I randomly came across while walking on the street one day suddenly turned into a caged bird. The image may not be real, but the emotions it evokes certainly are.

To me, that's one of the most interesting aspects of pareidolia. Even though we know that what we are seeing is an illusion, some part of us still connects with the image on a profound level and we still experience very real, albeit subtle, emotions.

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