Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Shapes, Emotions and Perception

Take a look at these two shapes.
Which appears more "joyful"?
Which appears "fearful"?

If you're like most people, the oval that is more vertical seems more joyful. And the one that is tilted on its side, less stable, is the shape that you would assign as being more fearful.

How about these shapes? Which appears to be suffering more?

Again, if you're like most people, the triangle that is rotated more from the vertical position is the one that is suffering more. The triangle that is vertical, standing on point is stronger.

Interesting, huh?

In a recent study, Pavlova and her colleagues[1] found that imbalance or instability in a picture of static objects is what leads individuals to attribute emotion to them. In a psychological sense, it is as if we see ourselves as the object. Being vertical and grounded is a state that is pleasing and empowering to us. The shapes that feel off-center evoke an off-centered feeling for us. For more on this check out Cognitive Daily, where I first saw this.

The way we perceive things influences how we think and how are mind processes thoughts. Try this next one... Do you see a face or a word?

I love this stuff!

[1]Pavlova, M., Sokolov, A.A., & Sokolov, A. (2005). Perceived dynamics of static images enables emotional attribution. Perception, 34, 1107-1116.

accessed a
t Scientific Psychic


Dawn said...

i love this stuff too. at 1st i saw a face, but then saw the word.

have a good day, Dr. Deb

Miranda said...

Wow, interesting, I like the word thing too.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the more upright shapes seemed fearful and the tipped ones were less so. To me the upright ones were more alert and ready, the others, relaxed. Interesting post. I've seen the face/word one before and it's really cool.

Michelle said...

At first I saw the face and then the word like Dawn. What does that mean? Does it have something to do with how we process things initially and how with time, consideration etc...perceptions and the way we process or look at something can change?

Fallen Angels said...

Ok...I may be weird. No, no, scratch that...I AM weird, already know that! ;) I saw the word and the the same time.

I n g e r said...

Me too! I just found a book of these and my kids could stare at them for hours. Too fun.

Heidi said...

I totally see a face..ugh! Sitting here with my head all contorted trying to see the What does it say?

Dreaming again said...

Tiesha ... I like you saw the shapes different. The ones off kilter were the less fearful, less suffering ones!

I saw the one on it's side as jumping for joy and having fun, and the upright one as firm and stayed, too afraid to move.

The one that's suffering as stiff, stuck. The one that's on it's side as relaxed, reclining.


I saw the face and had to purposefully follow the line to find the word.

Tai said...

Really really interesting stuff...keep it coming!

Angel Chasse said...

Hey Dr Deb!

I love that stuff too. I didn't know about the static shapes though. I guess it's probably like many things, where we only know what it is or what we think of it by comparing it with our own life experiences? On the picture with the face/word. I tilted my head, and then saw the word :)

Good news on CNN, Tsunami Warning CANCELLED!!! Good news indeed!!!

Love to read your stuff :)

Angel (again)

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Hey Dawn,
We are programmed to see faces and objects better than words. You have a GREAT day :)

Dear Miranda,
I love these things. I always did, even as a child.

Dear Tiesha,
"Average" does not mean everyone will see things the same way. You are one of many who see the tipped ones as less fearful and sad. Interesting though, huh?

Dear Michelle,
We seem to be programmed and prewired to see faces before words. Though some see the words first. So go figure. And to answer your ?, yes we can help alter our perceptions. Think of cloud watching or looking at abstract art. You can see so many things.

Dear Fallen,
Think this way: How *talented* I am...not how weird.

Dear Inger,
Oh, so glad you dropped in. I know you have been so busy. A book about these????You must tell me where I can find that. I love things like this.

Dear Heidi,
The word says LIAR, but it is tilted from the top to the bottom. Try again and see if you see it. And don't fret, I can't get some of these illusions, especially the computer art illusions where objects are actually in them. LOL!

Dear Dreaming,
Again, the average person, which means more than less, saw the figures stronger or happier in the upright positiont. That does not mean seeing it differently is better or worse! Once you know the word is there, it's hard NOT to see it, right?

Dear Tai,
I'll try my best!

Dear Angel,
I know that when I see cartoons for little children, sometimes they have shapes that move in ways that make them look like they are thinking or feeling things. Amazing how our minds work. And yes, the tsunami warning being called off is such a good thing. Technology, when it works, is so cool!


dragonflyfilly said...

whoops, me wrong on both counts? - does that mean my perception is skewed? - glad to see tiesha agrees with me...i would be curious to know why we perceive these differently

....i think is saw the face very briefly, then the word...

dragonflyfilly said...

hmmm, it's all in the tilt of he head, heh heh...

the other day i was changing the light bulbs and had to use the step ladder...i felt so good being "taller" i spent a least half an hour experimenting on "feeling taller", taking the steps to various parts of my apartment...i often do wish i was taller...i'm sure one height also as an effect on how one sees things...

mysti said...

Thanks for sharing. Very interesting what people see and what they do not see. Or perceive for that matter.

Id it is said...

That's interesting. It took me quite sometime to see the word!

TheCleaningWoman said...

Love these things. Although, I thought the upright oval seemed more fearful to me, rigid almost. The tilted oval seemed loose and free, hence joyful. Interesting study.

Took me a while to see the word though and really had to focus to see it.

Ian Lidster said...

All in the point-of-view, right, Deb. I saw a face immediately and I had to look much harder to see the word, despite the fact I write for a living. On the other hand, I also paint and draw. So, a question for you, do you find people's perceptions of the images vary according to their mood? Are people more eccentric in what they want to see if they are happy, depressed, etc. Oh, I'd love to pick your brain for ages on some of the subjects you offer.

Heidi said...

LIAR! ( not u the word) lol Thankyou for letting me know..Did another tilt and it worked!

augustknight said...

Frankly I don't want to give geometrical shapes human emotions. Especially since I always am in the minority in these things.
In my long and historied association with the psychiatric profession. As a patient of course. I was given a battery of tests, including the famous Rorschach Test. After each answer I gave the psychologist would ask, what else do you see. So I gave him another convoluted answer. This would continue until I said that I didn't see anything more. I was later to find out that he wasn't interested in my answers at all. He was seeing how compliant I was by adding the number of times I answered. Guess I won't be handling any state secrets. But one other thing. In the 12 years that he adminstered the test I was the first person to know who Goethe was. Again, I will not be handling any state secrets.

Fallen Angels said...

Awww...*weird* is would be very boring without some weirdness! :D

Groove said...

Oh my that is interesting! Does this having anything to do with our own thought process. Could it mean sometimes we don't always see the truth?

I am told to be very analytical. I am not happy with just knowing things, I want to know the whys. I seen the word first. I thought I was seeing things-

Jackie said...

I can only see a face! And I was the opposite of what should be thought on the first two. Oh, well, I just have a tilted sense of life I guess!

Love ya Deb,

jumpinginpuddles said...

i always like the shapes striaght up its kind of a theory i have soemwhere in the scrambled mess of what people call a brain, that anything straight up is half way to fallen anything is fallen is half way to the ground. Just like my house i dont think it would be safe on a angle.
As for face or word would have a clue LOL

alan said...

I had a friend I used to work next to; he had a shirt with a portrait of Freud on it that was also a nude woman. He had no idea it was Freud, of course, he just thought it was cool shirt, lol!


jumpinginpuddles said...

and i have an unusual request been wanting to ask for a while but i guess didnt feel it was appropriate until now. I was wondering if you could do a blog on finding the right Therapist for you and what you should be looking for as far as ethics and boundaries? if you cant its fine, just a suggestion

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Dragonfly,
No, you are okay! And I love your ladder experience. Every now and then when I stand on the a small landing in my home, I've also wondered what the perspective of more height would be like!!

Dear Mysti,
Our brain is most wonderful and mysterious and intriguing!

Dear Id It Is,
I saw the face first too, and then I saw the word. Tilted this way and that before I found it. :)

Dear Cleaning Woman,
Most people, not all, saw the figure askew as being fearful or sad. Others did not, like you :)

Dear Ian,
Mood would certainly influence perception. Think of looking at an abstract painting. If you are upbeat, you may see more upbeat objects and vice versa.

Dear Heidi,

Dear August,
Giving the Rorschach in that way confuses the person taking the test. Saying "What else do you see" implies that one SHOULD see something else. I was trained to administer that test differently. Imagine how anxious you must have been throughout feeling such pressure! Sheesh! Sounds like your testing experience was NOT a positive one. I can completely understand your dislike of things like this. And J.W Goethe rocks.

Dear Fallen,
I like eccentricity too.

Dear Groove,
That is a really great question. I don't know, actually. I do think that what we see isn't sometimes all that is there. But as far as truth, you got me there.

Hey Jackie,
Start at the top of the picture and trace your finger from the top to the bottom following the line. Maybe you will see the word then. I <3 u 2!

Dear JIP,
So funny.

Dear Alan,
Oh, I have seen that shirt!!!I forgot about that one. Once you know the nude woman is there, you can't NOT see it, imo!

Dear JIP,
I have written about this. Look at the Best of My Blog on the side panel. I have a post on how to find a good therapist, and it addresses the issues you are asking about.


dragonflyfilly said...

c.c. Dr. Deb; JV;

we DO worry about you JV, what can i say, perhaps it is the maternal instinct!!!! - i guess i will have to ask dr. deb to consider some kind of forum for "blogger's anxiety" when one of the 'flock' disappear without warning - a new syndrome to contend with eh, like now, we have not heard from dr. dork for awhile, and don't know what is going on with does get concerned...what can i say...we care....

hi Deb; just to save my wrists, i copied and pasted my comment from Mr. Death's blog to yours.

i have long been thinking about this: that a new, could i call it a syndrom?, has developed. I was thinking about it after the first time Dr. Dork was away for so long and we did not know what was going on with him...then shortly after JV did not post...and i had no way of contacting him....

the point is this, one gets to kind of know people, and to some extent, depend of them via chatting on the blogs...then when they are not there it is like one has lost a know what i'm getting after chatting with someone for a year or so, if they disappear, it is almost like a death, and you have to grieve...i'm i being a tad too dramatic?

p.s. whooo, i just read where someone saw the word "Dawn"....i saw the word Liar...crumbs! i will have to go back and check!!

Godwhacker said...

Very interesting Deb!

In the first set, #2 reminds me of a leaf or a flower petal and seems the most "joyful", so I guess I go against the grain on that one.

In the second set, I'm back with the majority. #2 looks to be falling and fragile ~ definitely more fearful.

On the last one, I definitely saw the face first and had to look for the word.

dragonflyfilly said...

crumbs again, just re-read the entries and it was DAWN, who said she saw the face then the word, so right about mood affecting is a beautiful sunny day today and i MUST go out for my walk, BUT, i feel sick to my stomach, everything hurts, and i can't even read the blogs properly...i feel listless and a little depressed....not to WILL always does...i just have to ride it through...i MUST clean the kitty litter though, if that is the only thing i do sitting on the comfy couch tho' - must keep moving, that is the best thing for me.

love and light,,,,,and summer IS on the way....whoooo hooooo

Leesa said...

I could only see a face for some time, but eventually the word came out. Not only is it interesting to see what we see, but also to see why we see what we see. It comes from our perceptions and past experiences.

Moof said...

Face first, word next - with a bit of effort.

However, the first shapes (ellipses) were reversed for me ... the upright oval made me think of an eye open wide in fear.

Like Ian, I'm into writing - and although I haven't drawn in a while, I'm also into art. It may skew the results a bit ... ?

Very interesting! Thank you for posting it.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Dragonfly,
In response to this, I think JV is telling you that he is venting and that it is more together than perhaps his words reflect. That of course if very good to know. Attachment and over-attachment can come in all kinds of forms. Best to know what is operating and go from there.

Dear Godwhacker,
So interesting how all this is uniquely different for each person :)

Dear Dragonfly,
Take care of yourself. That is so important.

Dear Leesa,
Right you are.

Dear Moof,
Everyone is different. The average person saw things one way, but that doesn't mean everyone does :)


Anonymous said...

Cool post! I love this kind of stuff

Sunnie Dee said...

For me the shapes that were rotated were more joyful and relaxed.

I really liked the face/word. although I didn't see a face at first.

Todd and in Charge said...

Cool! Funny, my take was the same as Godwhacker's.....not sure that's a good thing.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Anonymous,
I like them too. So glad you visited.

Dear Sonnie,
There really is no wrong answer here. I enjoy these perception images, when I find more, I will post them.

Dear Todd,
I think you and Godwhacker have great abilities, so it's a good thing!

Happy Weekend all,

healthpsych said...

Okay. I showed these to my partner and he refused to answer at all. He said he got no emotion from either of them.

What does that mean?

A Rorschach administering psychologist's worst nightmare. :)

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Healthpsych,


cynthia said...

I see a face and a word (liar)

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Cynthia,
Good job. You saw them both :)