the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The tendency to perceive an object incorrectly as something meaningful to the observer is pareidolia. This would be like seeing shapes in the clouds, a man in the Moon, hidden messages in musical recordings or like hearing something that isn’t there in an air conditioner or fan. At one time this was thought to be a symptom of psychosis but now is just considered a human tendency.

The Rorschach inkblot test uses pareidolia in an attempt to gain insight into a person’s mental state. It is hypothesized that religious people, or ones that believe in the supernatural are more prone to pareidolia. People on a higher alert for danger, neurotic, are more likely to spot something that isn’t there. Women are more likely to see faces that aren’t there because they seem to have a better ability to recognize emotions through deciphering facial expressions than men.

Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum (1828-1899) a German physiatrist that used the word Pareidolie in an 1866 paper, which was translated as pareidolia, to describe “…partial hallucination, perception of secondary images, or pareidolia.”

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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