Optical illusion that determines your age divides the internet

18 September 2018, 12:48 | Updated: 18 September 2018, 12:49

Optical illusion that determines your age divides

Take a long hard look, what do you see? The answer will determine if you see yourself as old or young.

This ingenious optical illusion is said to be able to determine your age and it has divided the internet. 

A research outfit at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia deduced that what you can see in the image can dictate how old you are. 

Those who see a young woman are typically young themselves, while observers who see an older lady will usually be more mature.

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What you see  in this image may be determined by your age

Mike Nicholls, a researcher professor, said: "What we found was young people tended to see the young lady in the image, whereas with older people they tended to see the old lady."

A sample group of 400 people aged 18 to 70 from the United States were shown the famous image, which is titled "My Wife and My Mother-In-Law".

Each person was allowed to view the drawing for around one second, and they were not given any hints about the nature of the survey. 

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

Read more: Can you spot the 20p coin in this picture? 

"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," he added.

The results of Professor Nicholls' 'Perception of an ambiguous figure is affected by own-age social biases' have been published publicly in Scientific Reports.


Professor Nicholls believes other western societies where the young and old don't mix as much will glean similar results to the US-based study.

"The effect of this [young people only spending time with young people] in society is that it makes it more difficult to encourage or even enforce inclusive behaviours, even in the workplace," he said. 

"I think in cultures [like Japan and India] where old people are much more integrated with family then I think you wouldn't get these biases," he said.

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