In the life of every person, situations arose when an ordinary object seemed very similar to a human face or an animal's face. A bowling ball sometimes resembles the head of a person with round eyes and an open mouth in surprise. The back of some Soviet watches looks like the face of a sad person. There are countless examples of this, and you have already understood what I mean, because you yourself have seen such "optical illusions". In scientific language, this phenomenon is called pareidolia and I have already talked about it in one of my materials. I present a link to it at the end of this article, but for now I propose to figure out why exactly we see faces in inanimate objects. Australian scientists believe that illusions arise from the way the human brain thinks. Believe me, there is nothing strange in this unusual phenomenon, and if it seems to you that objects can “express emotions”, then you are not crazy.
What is pareidolia?
Why many people see the outlines of faces in ordinary objects, was told in the scientific publication Psychological Science . As mentioned above, this phenomenon is called pareidolia. It was previously thought that it arises because the human brain loves to seek associations. After all, it really seems to us interesting and funny that household appliances, houses, and so on are somewhat reminiscent of people and animals. There are a lot of photos with "come to life" objects on the Internet – you can enter "pareidolia" in the search and you will see everything for yourself. But let's first find out what scientists at the University of New South Wales (Australia) think about this phenomenon.
In their opinion, the cause of pareidolia is not only our natural love for the search for associations. They believe that our brain sees faces in ordinary objects because it is well trained to recognize faces. Each person has facial features that distinguish him from the people around him. But in general, our faces are very similar in the arrangement of eyes, nose, mouth and so on. It just so happened that human eyes are located on the upper part of the face, and the nose and mouth are located below. When a person sees two screws next to each other, and under them something that looks like a nose and a mouth like a door handle and a keyhole, it seems to him that this is a person's face.
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But it is not enough for the human brain to only recognize a person by a face. It is also important for the brain to find out his emotional state: he is laughing or sad, angry or calm, interesting or bored, and so on. So, if a person thinks that a house in sight with two huge windows resembling eyes is as if looking directly at him, then this brain is simply trying to recognize a possible face and consider his emotion. At the same time, the researchers note that all people are clearly aware that the surrounding objects with "living" features are not actually alive.
At its core, pareidolia is a side effect of our ability to quickly recognize faces of people we know well. As primitive people began to interact more actively with each other, to form groups and provide support, their brains began to improve. Ultimately, today we are very good at recognizing faces and sometimes this ability works so well that we see faces where they are not. The authors of the scientific work are confident that it is better to have a face recognition system that is too sensitive than the other way around. In any case, pareidolia does not create any inconvenience and it is sometimes even funny to notice unusual objects.
At the beginning of the article, I promised to share links to several materials that mention pareidolia. In the first one, I talked about how scientists found a huge face, Bigfoot, a flying spoon, and other strange objects in photographs of the surface of Mars. In fact, all these objects are stones that our brain perceives as something more complex. In this case, we are also talking about pareidolia, but in a slightly different form. You can look at the mysterious photographs of the Red Planet in this article .
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And if Mars is not interesting to you, I suggest taking a look at the article written by my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova. She spoke in detail about what mirages are and how they appear . One could say that mirages are ordinary hallucinations, but no, this is something completely different.