What’s the first thing you see in the drawing above?
“My Wife and My Mother-in-Law” is one of the most famous optical illusions in history. The simple drawing depicts both a young woman looking away and the profile of an older woman from a closer vantage point.
If you’re having trouble, notice that the same line represents the younger woman’s necklace and the older woman’s mouth.
Nearly everyone can see both images one-at-a-time, but which image you see first may be influenced by your age.
An Australian study published in the peer reviewed journal Nature concluded that our perception of faces depends on how our brains process both visual information and how we perceive ourselves in society.
“Faces from a social in-group, such as people of a similar age, receive more in-depth processing and are processed holistically,” the article explains. The researchers found that younger viewers living in societies that are “less inclusive towards the elderly” were far less likely to see the older woman first.
“The own-age bias may have been stronger for younger- compared to older-participants,” the study reported after participants were shown the image above for 0.5 seconds and asked to guess the age of the woman in the drawing.
“It is possible that participants simply estimate an age for the illusion that is closer to their own,” the study concludes.
Which did you see first?