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upworthy

psychology

Prepare to get Thatcherized.

It seems that Adele is going viral once again.

Perhaps you’ve seen the image in question previously (it seems to make the rounds every couple of years). But in case you missed it—it’s Adele’s face. Normal, just upside down.

Only it’s not normal. In fact, when you turn Adele’s face right side up, what you notice is that her eyes and mouth were actually right-side up THE ENTIRE TIME, even though the entire head was upside down. So when you turn the head right side up, the eyes and mouth are now UPSIDE-DOWN—and you can’t unsee it. Do you feel like you're Alice in Wonderland yet?


Just wait. Things get even more fascinating. Especially because this optical illusion is over 40 years in the making.

Below you’ll find the Adele photo in question. Go ahead. Take a look at it. Then turn the image upside down.

adele, thatcher effect, psychology

Can't. Unsee.

scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net

Crazy right? And just a little terrifying?

As the Facebook post explains, this mind-boggling image highlights a phenomenon known as the Thatcher effect. Our brains, so much more used to recognizing faces that are right-side up, have difficulty detecting specific changes once a face is upside down.

Seeing that everything is more or less where it should be, our brains don’t notice anything out of the ordinary in Adele’s face until we turn her face back to a normal position.

The Thatcher effect got its name from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, on whose photograph it was first demonstrated back in 1980 by Peter Thompson, Professor of Psychology at York University.

This demonstration was one of the first to explore just how facial recognition works, and certainly the first to suggest that humans (and monkeys, it turns out) process faces on a more holistic level, rather than by individual components like lips and eyes. Since its publication, there has been a wealth of research exploring how our brain takes in both subtle and striking facial configurations.

Funny enough, it was once believed that this illusion only worked on the Prime Minister’s face. But as Adele has proven, anyone can be Thatcherized.


This article originally appeared on 8.31.23

Science

A guy with a twisted sense of humor explains how your brain is quicker to judge than your eyes

You know that saying "You never get a second chance to make a first impression?"

Who's more trustworthy?


William Haynes wants to talk to you about your brain.

He's a comedian for SourceFed, and he's got kind of a strange, dark sense of humor.

So when he was invited to host an episode of Discovery's "DNews" about the science of first impressions, we knew it was going to be awesome.


Here's what he had to say.

Your brain can decide how trustworthy a person is just by getting a split-second look at their face.

education, research, first impressions, facial recognition

That’s pretty cool... and scary.

via DNews/YouTube

GIFs from "DNews."

Researchers, in a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that our brains help us form all kinds of spontaneous judgments of people that we may not even be aware of, including whether we can trust them.

It's all thanks to the amygdala, the walnut-shaped area of the brain that helps us process strong emotions.

amygdala, neuroscience, studies, brain

Are we programmed to react without knowing it?

via DNews/YouTube

In the study, two groups of participants were analyzed. The first group was asked to rate how much they trusted certain people by looking at their faces while the researchers measured activity in the amygdala. Simple enough.

The second group was asked to lay inside an MRI machine while faces flashed on a screen in front of them. But here's the catch: The faces appeared and disappeared so quickly that the people in this group couldn't even really see them.

Here's what the study found.

Regardless of whether you get a long look at someone's face or only a glance, your amygdala lights up like crazy.

What's even cooler is that participants in the study pretty much agreed on which faces were trustworthy and which ones weren't.

There were certain traits that stood out as shady, like furrowed eyebrows and shallow cheekbones, in particular.

first impression, judgement, testing, agreeable

What is the science behind a first impression?

via DNews/YouTube

This only begins to scratch the surface of the super-awesome science behind first impressions.

Did you know that a person's voice can have a similar effect on perception, even in small doses?

After testing a group of 64 people, researchers in Scotland found that participants were consistently able to agree on which personality traits corresponded to which voices they heard — based solely on hearing them speak the word "hello."

The biggest remaining question is whether these snap judgments have a measurable impact on our behavior.

A study by Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal found something pretty interesting.

According to Lifehacker, the two compared "the ratings given to college professors by classes at the end of the semester with ratings that another group of students gave the same professors based only on three ten-second silent video clips shown prior to any actual lectures."

The two groups mostly agreed on how much they liked the professors, indicating that, just maybe, first impressions really do matter.

Watch the full episode of "DNews" to learn more about cool brain stuff and catch William Haynes' killer one-liners below:

This article originally appeared on 10.18.14

via Pexels

People living to work, not working to live.

If we looked 60 years into the past, there are a lot of things that were accepted as “normal” that today most people find abhorrent. For example, people used to smoke cigarettes everywhere. They’d light up in hospitals, schools and even churches.

People also used to litter like crazy. It’s socially unacceptable now, but if you lived in the ’70s and finished your meal at McDonald’s, you’d chuck your empty styrofoam container (remember those?) and soda cup right out of the window of your car and onto the street.



It’s hard to imagine that just 60 years ago spousal abuse was considered family business and wasn't the concern of law enforcement.

It makes me wonder when people in the future look back on the year 2022, which things will they see as barbaric? Almost certainly, the way we treat the animals we use for food will be seen as cruel. The racial divides in the criminal justice system will be seen as a moral abomination. And I’m sure that people will also look at our continued reliance on fossil fuels as a major mistake.

A Reddit user by the name u/MEMELORD_JESUS asked the AskReddit subforum “What’s the weirdest thing society accepts as normal?” and the responses exposed a lot of today’s practices that are worth questioning.

A lot of the responses revolved around American work ethic and how we are taught to live to work and not to work to live. We seem to always be chasing some magical reward that’s just around the corner instead of enjoying our everyday lives. “I’ll get to that when I retire,” we say and then don’t have the energy or the inclination to do so when the time comes.

There are also a lot of people who think that our healthcare system will be looked at with utter confusion by people in the future.

Here are 17 of the best responses to the question, “What’s the weirdest thing society accepts as normal?”

1. Work-life balance

"Working until you're old, greying, and broken then using whatever time you have left for all the things you wish you could have done when you were younger." — Excited_Avocado_8492

2. Rest in comfort

"That dead people need pillows in caskets." — Qfn4g02016

3. I.R.S. mystery

"Guessing how much you owe the IRS in taxes." — SheWentThruMyPhone

4. You get the leaders you deserve

"Politicians blatantly lying to the people. We accept it so readily, it's as though it's supposed to be that way." — BlackLetyterLies

5. The booze-drugs separation

"Alcohol is so normalized but drugs are not. It's so weird. I say this as an alcohol loving Belgian, beer is half of our culture and I'm proud of it too but like... that's fucking weird man." — onions_cutting_ninja

6. Stage-parent syndrome

"People having kids and trying to live their lives again through them, vicariously, forcing the kids to do things that the parents never got to do, even when the kids show no inclination, and even have an active dislike, for those things." — macaronsforeveryone

7. Priorities

"Living to work vs working to live." — Food-at-last

8. 'The Man' is everywhere

"Being on camera or recorded any time you are in public." — Existing-barely

9. Tragic positivity 

"'Feel-good' news stories about how a kid makes a lemonade stand or something to pay for her mom's cancer treatment because no one can afford healthcare in America." — GotaLuvit35

10. Credit score

"As a non-American, I am amazed at their credit score system. As a third-world citizen, credit cards are usually for rich (and slightly less rich) people who have more disposable money than the rest of us and could pay off their debt.

The way I see people on Reddit talk about it is strange and somewhat scary. Everyone should have a card of his own as soon as he becomes an adult, you should always buy things with it and pay back to actively build your score. You're basically doomed if you don't have a good score, and living your life peacefully without a card is not an option, and lastly, you'll be seen as an idiot if you know nothing about it." — BizarroCullen

11. The retirement trap

"Spending 5/7ths of your life waiting for 2/7ths of it to come. We hate like 70% of our life, how is that considered fine?" — Deltext3rity

12. Yes, yes and yes

"Child beauty pageants." — throwa_way682

13. That's not justice

"The rape of male prisoners. It's almost considered a part of the sentence. People love to joke about it all the time." — visicircle

14. Customers aren't employers

"Tipping culture in the US. Everyone thinks that it's totally OK for employers not to pay the employees, and the customers are expected to pay extra to pay the employees wages. I don't understand it." — Lysdexiic

15. Staring at your phone

"Having smartphones in our faces all day. This shit isn't normal...imma do it anyway...but it is not normal." — Off_Brand_Barbie_OBB

16. Homework on weekends

"Students being assigned homework over weekends and only having a two-day weekend. The whole point of a weekend is to take a break from life, and then you have one day to recover from sleep deprivation then one day to relax which you can’t because of thinking about the next day being Monday. And the two days still having work to do anyways." — MrPers0n3O

17. Kids on social media

"Children/young teens posting on social media sites. I’m not necessarily talking about posting on a private Instagram followed by friends, I’m talking about when kids post on tiktok publicly without parental consent." — thottxy


This article originally appeared on 03.11.22

What is Depression?

In the United States, close to 10% of the population has depression, but sometimes it can take a long time for someone to even understand that they have it.

One difficulty in diagnosis is trying to distinguish between feeling down and experiencing clinical depression. This TED-Ed video from December 2015 can help make the distinction. With simple animation, the video explains how clinical depression lasts longer than two weeks with a range of symptoms that can include changes in appetite, poor concentration, restlessness, sleep disorders (either too much or too little), and suicidal ideation. The video briefly discusses the neuroscience behind the illness, outlines treatments, and offers advice on how you can help a friend or loved one who may have depression.


Unlike the many pharmaceutical ads out there with their cute mascots and vague symptoms, the video uses animation to provide clarity about the mental disorder. It's similar in its poignant simplicity to the HBO short documentary "My Depression," based on Liz Swados' book of the same name.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.19