Do You See What I See: Using Optical and Visual Illusions to Illustrate Perception
In this activity, students view a collection of visual illusions, often referred to as optical illusions, seeing for themselves, that individuals do truly see some things differently—or not at all. While showing a collection of graphic illusions, individuals may or may not see the intended final visual. As a result the class as a whole serves as a convenience sample of potential consumers/customers who might, or might not see what was intended on the part of a marketer.
This in-class activity demonstrates how individuals process stimuli differently. Students will learn:
that perception is unique to the individual,
to identify similarities and differences in their individual perceptual reactions to different visual stimuli, and
to synthesize how individual perceptual differences can affect information processing and response to stimuli.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Teaching Notes and Tips
Size of the class, and the room in which it is delivered should be considered. If this is a really large lecture class, students can be divided into small, impromptu groups to participate in discussion both during and after the presentation. If the room does not have a high-quality projector, or if ambient room light interferes with clear projection, the room may need to be darkened to provide the greatest level of contrast for the presentation.
Encourage students to informally respond to what they see, either to the small class as-a-whole, or within the smaller groups, if this is a large lecture class. This open and free response and reaction provides the greatest insights into just how individuals view and perceive these visuals.
While no formal assessment is used with this activity, student groups could be formed to brainstorm for a few minutes following the demonstration/presentation, about ways this might be relevant to a specific topic relevant to the class/subject matter. For example, one question students might consider:
- How would you review the graphics and other visuals used in a television advertisement, based upon what you just viewed?
- Another question which will relate this specific subject matter: If you saw an old man, and your group members saw a beautiful young woman, how would that influence what meaning individuals might assign to a product using such a visual on the package?
References and Resources
Other links include a selection of the most popular optical illusions
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Optical Illusions
Mighty Optical Illusions (lots of photos and more complex visuals)
Eye Tricks optical Illusions
Optical Illusions and Pictures (archive)