20 Optical Illusions That Reveal A Lot About Your Character

According to a Canadian study conducted by Queen’s University in Ontario, the average human brain processes about 6,200 thoughts each day. That’s a new thought every 14 seconds. But did you know that how your brain analyzes information can reveal a lot about your personality? Take these optical illusions, for example. What you see in them – or put another way, how your mind interprets them – might say more about you than you realize.

20. Crocodile or boat?

What’s the first thing you see when you look at the image above? Some might perceive a silhouette of a crocodile, its nose pointing toward the left of the picture and baring its teeth. Others visualize the “teeth” as waves lapping at the side of a boat with two figures aboard. So what was your initial impression?

Well, if the boat stood out, infotainment website The Powerful Mind says you’re likely to pay attention to the little things. It claims you’ll probably come across as inventive, idiosyncratic and even unique, but warns you not to get lost in specifics. However, if you saw the crocodile, you’re likely to be more pragmatic and wary; you see the bigger picture, so may end up taking smaller elements for granted. It suggests taking a few chances sometimes.

19. Pillars or figures?

Two images become apparent here, depending on whether you focus on the lighter elements of the image, or the darker areas. Specifically, at first glance you might have noticed three white columns, or two shadowy figures. What’s more, what you see might suggest the ways in which you prefer to live your life.

If the pillars stood out, then The Powerful Mind claims it’s likely you prefer safety and calm. But you might spend more time thinking about your objectives rather than working toward achieving them; to do that you may have to step out of your comfort zone. However, if the figures are more prominent, this suggests you’re mercurial and perhaps a bit of a maverick. Your curiosity prevails over any instincts you might have to settle down.


18. Woman or man?

What do you see in this image? If it’s the back of a young woman’s head then, according to newspaper the New Zealand Herald, you are inquisitive and see the positives in life. It claimed you may enjoy charity work, or helping people in need in your community. However, it warns you to beware of making knee-jerk decisions even though you’re likely to see tasks through to completion.

If, however, you initially perceived an old man with a mustache, then the New Zealand Herald article assesses you as loyal, trustworthy and level-headed. It suggests you are likely to be dependable and honest, with an ability to find the right path and lead others along it. And, although you’ll usually follow a carefully plotted course to avoid impetuous choices, you should be mindful that this level of perfectionism can be stressful.


17. Explosion or thumbs?

This image was created by the Israeli artist Noma Bar, who specializes in negative space to create ambiguous illustrations. He explained in his book, Negative Space, “An artist using ‘negative space’ relies on the space that surrounds the subject to provide shape and meaning to the hidden images. Of course, the term also refers to any topic that conjures feelings of unease and discomfort.” What do you see here?

The yellow-to-red gradient might look like an explosion. According to entertainment website The Wonder List, if that’s what you first discern then you have good organizational skills and outstanding leadership qualities. If, however, you see the black space resembling two thumbs then you have compassion for others and are kind and generous.


16. Old or young?

This more complex image is the work of Mexican surrealist artist Octavio Ocampo. He produces pieces of art on the basis that, as he puts it, “Nothing is quite as it seems.” Indeed, he has asserted that his work is open to interpretation by whoever is looking at it. So what’s the first thing you see in this piece, Forever Always?

There’s an interplay of an old couple looking back to their youth when they were carefree and having fun. It’s thought that if you see the old couple first then you’ve lived a fulfilling life and are content with how it has played out. But if you perceive the young couple initially then you embrace the enthusiasm of youth which can be navigated comfortably with a supportive network around you.


15. Binoculars, car or letter?

There are perhaps one of three elements a viewer might see looking at this image for the first time. For instance, you might have spotted a man wearing a hat looking through a set of binoculars. Or perhaps you saw a car perpendicular to a road. Or maybe the letter “A” jumped out at you first?

If you saw the man then it’s suggested that you’re better at seeing life in the round, not sweating the small stuff. But if the car initially grabbed your attention then you value liberty, moving through the world according to your own rhythm. However, you might get caught up on finer points. The letter “A” is a little more obscure. Nevertheless, if it’s the first thing you discerned then you may have a strong ability to think laterally.


14. Faces or candlestick?

Does this image show two faces staring at each other? If that’s what you see, then according to The Powerful Mind you’re an extrovert who loves social gatherings. As the center of attention at parties, your energy levels are given a boost when you are interacting with others, especially if they’re on the same wavelength.

However, if you saw a candlestick first, then The Powerful Mind describes you as less of a people person. You’re probably contemplative, perhaps even shy, and prefer to be left alone with your thoughts. It’s likely that you like alone time at home rather than parties, and would prefer the company of a few select people than large crowds.


13. It’s all about gender…

There are multiple perspectives to this illusion depending on whether you are a man or woman. For instance, The Powerful Mind website suggests that women who see the man’s face first may be looking for a passionate romance, or have a deep connection with a current partner. It’s something that you often think about. But if you noticed a woman’s face first then you are likely to be mentally strong and self-assured.

Similarly, men who saw the woman’s face first may be on the lookout for a long term partner with whom to settle down. The Powerful Mind asserts it may even be a major goal for him. But if he perceived the man’s face first then he may apparently have worries about bonding with other men, be it at work, among friends or in social spaces.


12. Moon or birds?

What do you notice at first glance in the above image? Do you see a round face with a mustache and closed eyes? Or do you perceive two birds in front of a full moon in the night sky? Well, the answer could indicate how you interact with people around you.

For instance, if you saw the face first, The Wonder List suggests that you are tactful and personable, and do your best to avoid conflicts. Your instincts serve you well. On the other hand, if you noticed the birds initially then you’re upbeat and hospitable with a knack for getting on with strangers. You’re also a good sounding-board for those close to you.


11. Mask or figure?

Is it a superhero mask? Or is it lingerie? The wrap-around eye mask and red hood may be distinctive to many as Peter Parker’s crime-fighting disguise. However, that’s not what everyone perceives. You see, the furrow of the superhero’s brow may appear to others like the detail on women’s underwear. What do you see?

The Wonder List claims that if you saw Spider-Man then you have a very placid, reticent and unflappable nature. You’re a stickler for tradition and don’t enjoy rocking the boat. However, it suggests if you noticed a bra, then you generally seek out excitement in your life and you are open to trying new things. You take each day as it comes and live life without regrets.


10. Bird or feline?

This image was created by the U.K. investment and loans company Funding Circle. It’s the firm’s belief that what you see first can determine to which sort of role at its company an employee would be best suited. Professional types it has identified include the go-to person, business creative and big-picture thinker. So do you see a lynx or bird in flight here?

Well, if you spotted the lynx first then it’s Funding Circle’s belief that you’re the type of person who can see the big picture. It would make you suitable for jobs that involve brainstorming, team assembly and project management. If, however, you saw the bird then you’re more of a go-getter with entrepreneurial flair. People will depend on you to get the job done.


9. Old or young?

This well-known optical illusion may reveal more about your age than your personality. This particular version was drafted by William Ely Hill and dates back more than 100 years. However, it’s believed to have incarnations that are even older. Research by two professors of psychology has suggested that people see different things depending on how old they are.

The illustration is called “My Wife or Mother-In-Law.” Academics at Flinders University in Adelaide showed it to 393 people, whose ages ranged from 18 to 68. The Australian study showed that the oldest 10 percent of participants saw the old woman looking toward the bottom left of the frame first. Meanwhile, the youngest 10 percent saw the young woman looking over her right shoulder first.


8. Vase or silhouettes?

This is Vase Ambiguous Figure, devised by Danish philosopher and psychologist Edgar John Rubin in 1915. However, it is also known as Rubin’s Face or Figure-Ground Vase, in keeping with its obscurity. Think about what you see in the image. Is it a vase, or two people facing each other in a profile view?

It’s been suggested that those who initially spot a vase have the ability to see an overarching view of situations; someone who sees the big picture with little regard for detail. Those who see the faces, however, tend to be more in tune with the finer points of matters. You may realize the importance of smaller actions to achieve a larger objective.


7. Skull or woman?

This 1892 illustration by Charles Allan Gilbert is called All Is Vanity. At first you might see a foreboding skull. For others it’s a woman gazing into a mirror. However, some uncertainty exists over the interpretation of the image. It’s been suggested that those who see the skull first may tend towards broad views. Meanwhile, those who see the woman are more detail-oriented.

Furthermore, some claim that there may be a deeper meaning to the illustration. The woman staring at her reflection may be considered vain. On the other hand, the skull is perhaps an insinuation that we’re all the same underneath. It could be said, then, that what viewers see first is an indication of how they value themselves.


6. How many superheroes?

What is the proper plural of Batman? Is it Batmans? Or Batmen? And while you might think there can only be one masked avenger patrolling Gotham City, there are two in this image. Or are there? Perhaps instead you see arguably the most fearsome of superheroes, Wolverine, he of the metal claws and surly disposition.

This is a modern take on optical illusions. It is said that those who see two Batmans – or Batmen – facing each other are fans of DC Comics, the stable that produced the character. Those who see the tufts of Wolverine, on the other hand, are more partial to its rival, Marvel Comics.


5. Lots to spot…

There are multiple symbols to be found in this image. Can you spot balloons, roses, a tilted cross, an open book, a lion, a tie, a heart and smiley face? Pay attention to which you saw first, because according to wellbeing website Your Tango, it can reveal a lot about your personality.

It’s said that if you spotted the open book first, you’re smart and instinctive. If it was the roses you’re calm and see the virtue in everything. The tilted cross means you’re giving and faithful, while the balloons signify an upbeat nature and an active imagination. If the heart stood out you’re tender and affectionate, and the lion means you’re intrepid and fearless. The smiley face represents jocularity and optimism, whereas the tie is for diligence and resolve.


4. Coming or going?

The photographer Joaquim Alves Gaspar shot this image of a man in a tunnel about 50 years ago. However, because only his silhouette is visible, it’s impossible to tell whether he’s walking away from the lens, or toward him. So what does it say about the viewer depending on whether they see a man leaving or approaching?

Well, there’s no definitive answer to this. However, could it be that the observer’s point of view relates to a positive or negative state of mind? For instance, fear of people leaving is sometimes linked to anxiety. Perhaps, then, those who believe the man is walking toward the camera naturally have a more positive outlook on life.


3. Woman or skull?

At first glance, you may think this is an image of a skull. However, on closer inspection you will see a woman leaning forward and grasping her hands behind her neck and head between her knees. According to The Powerful Mind website, if your brain favors the skull then you may be indecisive and lack clarity in your direction.

Conversely, if you saw the woman first, The Powerful Mind suggests you’re defensive in your responses. You see, the woman’s posture is a very shielding one, which may be something to which you relate. The website reads, “The woman represents your inner regret, and could shed some light on regrets in your own life.”


2. Color me confused…

It’s not just positions and shapes that offer clues about personality. Colors, too, can play a part in character analysis. Take this image as an example. Which color is most prominent in your eyes? Your answer could give away a surprising insight into your temperament. So does blue, yellow or turquoise dominate the image?

If you see a lot of turquoise, then The Wonder List claims you’re a restless risk-taker, whose imagination fuels a creative streak. Those who see mostly dark blue, on the other hand, are very analytical and have perfectionist tendencies. If yellow dominates for you, however, then the site asserts that you’re easygoing and are adaptable.


1. The elephant in the room…

At first glance, it’s fairly easy to see the silhouette of an elephant. However, spend a little longer on it and more animals may reveal themselves. For instance, can you see a cat, dog and a mouse? Perhaps you might even spot the ass. Indeed, the more animals you see, the more clues are revealed about your personality.

Perhaps different from the other illusions in this list, this works the longer you look at it rather than at first glance. According to The Wonder List, if you can see up to three then you’re unconcerned with details and maybe dreamy. Manage between four and seven animals and you’re more attentive, though lacking in motivation to try harder. If you notice between eight and 13, however, you possess a knack for spotting details.