Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Best Visual Illusion of the Year 2009

Third Prize: The Illusion of Sex

"In the Illusion of Sex, two faces are perceived as male and female. However, both faces are actually versions of the same androgynous face. One face was created by increasing the contrast of the androgynous face, while the other face was created by decreasing the contrast. The face with more contrast is perceived as female, while the face with less contrast is perceived as male. The Illusion of Sex demonstrates that contrast is an important cue for perceiving the sex of a face, with greater contrast appearing feminine, and lesser contrast appearing masculine."

5 comments:

an ordinary chessplayer said...

Before reading your explication, I tried a feature-by-feature comparison and couldn't see any difference that would explain why I thought the left was female and the right male. The lips on the left appear fuller at first glance, but not on close inspection.

Is it cultural?

The use of makeup by women usually increases the contrast so that's interesting too.

Anonymous said...

The skin on female faces is generally lighter than on males, isn't it? And increasing the contrast seems to be the same as making the skin look lighter, so maybe contrast has nothing to do with it?

Seems they should test this, not sure how though.

- The face on the left looks rounder to me-- I don't know why-- but rounder is more female too. Agree with AOC about the lips.

Anonymous said...

(838 here), forgot to ask- @AOC:

Do you mean
1) the illusion works because we're used to seeing make-up, or
2) make-up works, because it takes advantage of the illusion?

Rich in Brooklyn said...

I thought both faces looked female.

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