Your age could alter how you interpret this optical illusion

The Illusion "My Wife and My Mother-in-Law". Your age could alter the way in which you interpret this optical illusion. Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Some will see a young women first while others will see an older lady.  The interpretation of one of the most famous optical illusions could in fact depend on your age according to a recent Australian study. 

In the illusion “My Wife and My Mother-in-Law“ the observer will either see either a young women who is diverting her gaze or the side profile of an old lady. You won’t see both these images at the same time.  But what determines the image that you see first?  A recent study has suggested that age is the answer.  According to two psychologists, who have outlined their work in the Nature journal, younger people will see the young women first while older people will see the older lady.

“Although face recognition is governed by low-level neural detection mechanisms, it is also affected by seemingly incidental high-level social processes. ” the study explains. The study continues saying, “A good example is the effect of social in- and out-groups. A social in-group is a collection of people with whom a person identifies as a member whereas an out-group is outside one’s identity. Social in- and out-groups can occur along multiple dimensions including race, sexual orientation, and age.”

So as to determine whether the age of the viewer affected their interpretation or not, researchers explain that they analysed the behaviour of 393 participants (242 men and 141 women) aged between 18 and 68 year old.  They were shown the image for half a second. Each participant then had to describe the sex and age of the person they saw in the picture.  Researchers then deduced that the older participants saw an older lady first while the younger participants perceived a younger woman.  What about you, who did you see first?

My Wife and my Mother-in-Law: William Ely Hill (1915) Credits: Wikipedia

Here are some hints is you having any difficulties:  The ear of the young lady is also the eye of the older lady while the younger lady’s necklace represents the mouth of the older lady.

So, what do you see?


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