On Air Now
The Smooth Sanctuary at 7 with Gary Vincent 7pm - 10pm
28 September 2018, 15:48
People are baffled by the results of this optical illusion and it’s dividing the internet.
A study at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia has found that what you see in this image will determine how old you are.
The study found that people who saw a young woman in the picture are generally young, while those who see an older woman tend to be older themselves.
400 people between 18 and 70 looked at the picture titled 'My Wife and My Mother-In-Law' for around one second each. They had no clues beforehand as to what the survey was about, and the results spoke for themselves.
Research professor Mike Nicholls said: “What we found was young people tended to see the young lady in the image, whereas with older people they tended to see the old lady.”
Professor Nicholls added that he thought the results of the survey were influenced by the fact that it was a US-based study. He explains that young people in the US tend to spend more time with other young people and less with older people as the two cultures are less integrated.
The social experiment, titled 'Perception of an ambiguous figure is affected by own-age social biases' (catchy), has been publicly published. In it, Professor Nicholls explains: “Everyone has their own in groups and out groups”.
He says “Young people tend to have an in group which focuses on other young people and old people tend to have an old group focussing on older people. We think this subconscious bias is what you would see in one of the images.”
"So even people who might think that they are being balanced or fair about a person's age what we are showing is it seems to be subconscious," he added.
Professor Nicholls believes that the biases demonstrated in the US participants may not be present in some eastern cultures because all ages mix more with each other: “I think that in cultures [like Japan and India] where old people are much more integrated with family then I think you wouldn’t get these biases”.