Psychology

What You See In These Images Reveals A Lot About You 

Donn Saylor
Updated September 13, 2019 914.5k views 9 items

The brain is nothing short of fascinating, and throughout the course of any given day, we engage most of it - not just 10 percent of it. But the mind also has subtle and clever ways of revealing aspects of your personality that may not immediately be apparent. For instance, each one of these optical illusions says something distinctive about the viewer's personality, depending on what a person sees when they look at it.

So, how does this all work? It starts with the eye. How the eye processes visual information determines what the mind interprets when it looks at an image. As far as the psychology of the image, that's a little more open to interpretation - much like your Myers-Briggs type -  but optical illusions have long fascinated the world. Whether they're presented as a kid's puzzle or a source of serious scientific study, optical illusions tell us a lot about how we think, who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, and how we experience the world.

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Do You See A Vase Or Two People Facing Each Other?
Do You See A Vase Or Two... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list What You See In These Images Reveals A Lot About You
Photo: John Smithson/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

A Danish psychologist and philosopher named Edgar John Rubin first devised this classic optical illusion. What does it say to you? Is it an image of two people in profile facing one another, or an ornate vase?

If you see the vase first, you are seeing the bigger picture with less focus on the details, so you are likely a "bigger picture" thinker. If you see the two people in profile first, your eyes are picking up on the details of each silhouette, so you are likely someone who zeroes in easily on particulars and senses the steps that must be accomplished to reach a goal. 

Do You See A Woman Looking In A Mirror Or A Skull?
Do You See A Woman Looki... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list What You See In These Images Reveals A Lot About You
Photo: Charles Allan Gilbert/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

This is "All is Vanity," an 1892 drawing by artist Charles Allan Gilbert. Viewers tend to see one of two things: a woman looking in a mirror, or a large, ominous skull.

Given the popularity and long history of this image, its interpretation in relation to the viewer's personality has been the subject of much debate. There is the classic interpretation centering on detail. If you first see the woman, you probably tend to life's details and make concrete steps to goals, but if you see the skull first, you might be a bigger-picture thinker who is better at aiming for long-term objectives.

Much has also been said about this image's dual meaning. The woman looking in the mirror could be seen as vain, and the skull could be a reminder that, in the end, vanity gets us nowhere because we all end up in the same condition. Perhaps, then, what one immediately sees says something about their own vanity. 

Do You See A Rabbit Or A Duck?
Do You See A Rabbit Or A... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list What You See In These Images Reveals A Lot About You
Photo: Fliegende Bl├Ątter/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Is it a rabbit or a duck? This question was first posed by American psychologist Joseph Jastrow in 1900. Like most optical illusions, what a viewer sees is all about the brain's ability and agility.

When it comes to switching between the two images within the single image, how fast you can make that switch likely says something about how creative you are. In a 2011 study published in The British Journal of Psychology, researchers found that the quicker a viewer could switch between seeing the rabbit and seeing the duck, the more inventive they were with finding multiple uses for everyday objects.

Do You See An Old Couple Or Their Younger Selves?
Do You See An Old Couple... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list What You See In These Images Reveals A Lot About You
Photo: Octavio Ocampo/WikiArt/Fair Use

This is a painting called Forever Always by surrealist Octavio Ocampo. There are two images at work here: an old couple facing one another in profile, and a flashback to when they were young, drinking, playing music, and dancing.

One interpretation of this painting suggests that those who first see the older couple are living or have lived life to the fullest and can enjoy the peace and contentment that comes from that. Those who first see the younger couple can relish the excitement of youth and confidently face the future knowing they are loved and supported.