Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1771-1


Pareidolia is the phenomenon of recognizing a meaningful pattern, shape, or object from ambiguous forms in visual scenes. We experience pareidolia when an object is perceived even though it is not actually there (Kato and Mugitani 2015; Liu et al. 2014; Mamiya et al. 2016; Proverbio and Galli 2016). When we recognize an animal’s form in the clouds, a pattern of a leaf in a cup of coffee, or the figure of a reaching arm in the shadow of the tree, we are experiencing pareidolia. More notable examples include seeing a man’s face on the moon or Jesus’ portrayal on a piece of toast (Liu et al. 2014). Most studies focus on a specific type of pareidolia – face pareidolia – in which faces or face-like patterns are recognized in the absence of an actual face (Liu et al. 2014; Proverbio and Galli 2016; Ryan et al. 2016; Takahashi and Watanabe 2013; Wardle et al. 2017). Although examples of face pareidolia emerge spontaneously in the environment, there are also examples of face...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mystera M. Samuelson
    • 1
  1. 1.The Institute for Marine Mammal StudiesGulfportUSA