This is the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features or why you might see an animal figure in the clouds above. Derived from the Greek (para, ''amiss, wrong'') + (eidōlon, ''image''), it is a psychological phenomenon that causes some people to see a vague or random image as something significant.
The famous Rorschach inkblot tests (right) use pareidolia in an attempt to gain insight into a person's mental state and for personality assessments.
A prime example of pareidolia is in connections to religious themes and images. From the Shroud of Turin, a cloth bearing the image of a man - which some believe to be Jesus; to Jesus on burnt toast; to tealeaves Jesus peering up from someone's cup, pareidolia has had people far and wide screaming miracles.
Research shows that a brain region called the fusiform face area is important in recognizing and distinguishing faces. So we're pretty much "hard-wired" from birth to identify the human face - with minimal detail or effort.
Now you know it, prepare to be watched...from all angles.
|''A 10 hour sleep and I still get hit across the head''|
|They had heard of the good |
stuffing Mrs. Red had received
Form an orderly queue''
|He hadn't seen him in a week...this wasn't going to be pretty|
''What we see depends mainly on what we look for''
~ John Lubbock
~ John Lubbock