Feeds

Famous 'Silhouette' Flash illusion unravelled by trick-cyclist

Twirling nude lady doesn't actually get inside your head

The next step in data security

The "silhouette illusion" used in many online quizzes to indicate things about a user's personality, whether he or she is left- or right-brained etc, is actually of no use for finding such things out.

The illusion, in which a silhouetted woman is seen turning on the spot, arises from the fact that - from the information given - she could actually be turning either clockwise or anticlockwise. Despite the fact that there isn't enough information to tell, though, the viewer's brain will insist that it can in fact see which way the lady is rotating. A majority of viewers see her as turning clockwise, but many go for anti-clockwise.

The silhouette illusion was designed in 2003 by Nobuyuki Kayahara, a Flash designer in Japan, but has been extensively ripped off. People have theorised that the direction of rotation perceived says something about the viewer - that their perception of the spin direction is influenced by which hemisphere of their brain is dominant, and going on to infer things about their personality.

All that's utter hogwash, according to Dr Niko Troje of Queen's University in Canada.

“Our visual system, if it has a choice, seems to prefer the view from above,” says Troje. “It’s a perceptual bias. It makes sense to assume that we are looking down onto objects that are located on the ground below us rather than floating in the air above us.”

According to a study performed by Dr Troje and his colleagues, viewing angle is all-important in the answer offered up by people's brains to the silhouette. As people are naturally predisposed to assume they are looking at things from above, they tend to assume they are and so decide that the lady is spinning clockwise.

Troje and his fellow Queen's trick-cyclist Matthew McAdam document their findings in a paper published by the journal i-Perception. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.