Old woman or young girl? What you see in this optical illusion depends on your age

A picture of an optical illusion looking both like an old woman in a hood and a young girl wearing a fancy hat has gone viral. What do you see in the image first?

Optical illusions go viral on the Internet every now and then, leaving people scratching their heads. A popular type of illusion is an image that produces two different things to different people. From the pink shoe that appeared to be blue (or the other way round) to many of your friends to the image of a broken car door that appears to be that of a beach with a stormy sky, we have had a hard time thinking about what exactly they are.

Now, another similar image of an optical illusion has gone viral on social media. Take a look at this picture:

optical illusion old lady young woman

What do you see?

Did you look into the eye of an old woman? Or did you see a young woman staring back into the distance?

A 2018 study published by two psychology professors at Flinders University, Australia, found that older people notice the old woman first, while younger people see the young girl figure.

The research involved 393 participants from the ages of 18 to 68. The participants were shown the ‘My Wife or My Mother-in-Law’ image for half a second and then were asked to tell the gender and age of the figure they spotted in the picture first.

The aim of the research was to find out if “own-age biases affect the initial interpretation of an image at a subconscious level.”

Professor Mike Nicholls, who was part of the research, said, “What we found was that young people tended to see the young lady in the image, whereas with older people they tended to see the old lady.”

Are you still looking for the other image?

Well, the older woman’s nose is also the younger woman’s chin. What appears to be the older woman’s eye is also the younger woman’s ear. While the older woman is hooded, the younger lady is wearing a fancy hat.

Nicholls explained, “Everyone has their own in-groups and out-groups. Young people tend to have an in-group which focuses on other young people and old people tend to have a group focusing on older people. We think this subconscious bias is what you would see in one of the images.”

He added, “So even people who might think that they are being balanced or fair about a person’s age – what we are showing is it seems to be subconscious.”

When the participants were separated into the oldest 10 per cent and the youngest 10 per cent, the researchers found the majority of the older set saw the older woman first, with the younger group spotting the younger woman.

What did you see in the image when you first looked at it?

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