Your Age Affects How You See This Famous Optical Illusion – What Do You See?

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Gabbi Shaw

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Here's a hint: The young woman's necklace is the old woman's mouth. Wikimedia Commons 

"My Wife and My Mother-in-Law" is one of the most well-known optical illusions in the world.

It hinges on facial perception: You can either see a young woman turning away or the profile of an older woman staring solemnly towards the left side of the drawing. However, you can only see one at a time.

Here's a hint: The young woman's necklace is the old woman's mouth. Wikimedia Commons

See it? The young woman's chin doubles as the older woman's nose, and the old woman's chin is also the young woman's chest.

If you've ever wondered why you see whichever woman you see first, an Australian study conducted by two psychology professors concluded that it has to do with your age.

According to the study, a younger person will see the younger woman first, while older people will see the older woman first. The study included 393 participants (242 males, 141 females) from ages 18 to 68, though the median age was 32. They were shown the image for half a second, and then were asked the gender and age of the person that they saw.

While most participants saw the younger woman first, it could be because many of the participants were on the younger side. When the researchers separated the oldest 10% and the youngest 10% of those surveyed, they found that the older set saw the older woman first, and the younger set the young woman.


The point of the study was to determine if "own-age biases affect the initial interpretation of an image at a subconscious level." But even if you see the older lady first, just remember: You're as young as you feel.

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