Visual perception




I would sometimes look at the clouds and imagine faces or animals. Also, I would find faces in landscapes,food or even man-made objects…..this experience always made me feel clueless. I didn’t know what I am experiencing or why I am imagining this. While reading my Cognitive Psychology textbook I came across a demonstration about finding faces in landscapes which reminded me of my past experiences. Searching more about this topic I came across the term “Face Pareidolia” which is the illusory perception of non-existent faces. I believe most people have never heard about it but nearly everyone has experienced it. According to the World English Dictionary Pareidolia is defined as “the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist.”(BBC, 2013)
Furthermore, Gestalt Law of perception explains how humans have the cognitive tendency to combine isolated, simple ideas and stimuli into meaningful and complex configurations. Gestalt describes in details five laws of perception which are continuity, closure, proximity, similarity and simplicity. Each type looks at a different side of our organizational perception. Continuity perception is when we perceive objects that seem to have a relationship to each other as being continuous. Closure describes our tendency to look for unity in objects and to see lines as a single unit so we tend to fill in details. Proximity indicates our tendency to group together close items in a meaningful way. Law of similarity suggests that similar things tend to appear grouped together. Finally, a law of simplicity or Pragnanz explains how objects in the environment are seen in a way that makes them appear as simple as possible. This cognitive ability is considered a survival technique that our brain uses to automatically seek sensible wholes out of random context.



BBC (2013, May 31). Pareidolia: Why we see faces in hills, the moon and toasties. BBC Magazine. Retrieved from

Gestalt challenge. Retrieved July 12, 2016, from

Goldstein, B. E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience with Coglab manual (3rd ed.). United States: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

2 thoughts on “Visual perception

  1. Emily Bogen

    I appreciate that you connected the phenomenon of seeing faces in inanimate objects to the Gestalt laws of perception, as I believe this is an important part of finding recognizable features in objects that do not actually contain said features. These visual perceptions act almost as a visual metaphor, resembling things like human faces – with specific regard to faces, there is a specialized part of the brain that recognizes these features as a facial pattern. This means that we can visualize how an inanimate object could look like a face by associating features of the object with facial features like eyes, noses, and mouths. The Facial Fusiform Area (FFA) is believed to perform this recognition, as research studies show that this part of the brain responds to head-on views of human faces as well as objects that are arranged to resemble human faces, but doesn’t respond as well to side views of faces or other parts of the human body like hands (Journal of Neuroscience). I find this very interesting, because it shows that this part of the brain has developed a specific pattern of features that it recognizes as a face, whether perceiving a real human face or an arrangement of objects like the faces we sometimes see in the clouds.

    Goldstein, B. E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience (3rd ed.). United States: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

    The Journal of Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2016, from

  2. Tyler Metros

    I find it funny that we can perceive anomalies from random things. Illusions, as some call them, can trick the eye into believing they are something that they are not. An example of this would be the famous portrait that depicts what looks like a beautiful and upper-class, young woman, but when one really examines it, one can see an old woman within the picture. Another noteworthy example of such a thing is the picture of the dress that trended over the internet last summer. What color was it? People couldn’t seem to make up their minds. These optical illusions trick the eye and show that perception is a very versatile thing after all.

    All of the universe is somehow linked together and is perceived as a unified entity of endlessness, consisting of countless components all working in tandem. This, though, is not an illusion, but rather it is reality.

    Speaking from a deeply spiritual standpoint as a Neo Pagan… I believe that there is grandeur in everything we perceive in the natural world. From what was once only one or several powers breathed into the essence of stars that began to plant the seeds for the tree of a biological holy that we call earth… From this origin, all of life arose upon this planet, which cycles around the sun. Every blade of grass, as well as all the flowers and the trees so high… Mountains towering in all their tectonic glory above the ground, below the sky almighty in its clarity and endlessness… The oceans and streams so sublime and refreshing… This planet is bountiful with life, whether they be the ones who walk upon the ground or the ones who swim through the waters or the ones who fly through the air. All of this, surrounded by the sun and the moon and seven other nearby planets and three dwarf planets, is only a speck of majesty in the universe. Billions of stars and their surrounding planetary systems ignite a cosmic canvas that stretches out for an infinite distance that humans cannot even begin to imagine. In all of this, there is a writing… leading to the one who is the mother of all.

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