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Pareidolia: Definition, Examples, and Effects

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Pareidolia is a phenomenon that occurs when the human brain perceives a familiar pattern or object in a random or unrelated stimulus. It is a form of apophenia, which is the perception of meaningful patterns in random or meaningless data. Pareidolia is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the human brain, and it is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps us recognize patterns and make sense of our environment.

Examples: Pareidolia can be seen in many everyday occurrences. For example, seeing faces in clouds or hearing hidden messages in music are both examples of pareidolia. It can also be seen in the way we interpret random shapes and patterns, such as seeing a rabbit in the moon or a man in the stars.

Effects: Pareidolia can have both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, it can help us recognize patterns and make sense of our environment. On the negative side, it can lead to false beliefs and superstitions. It can also lead to paranoia and anxiety, as people may become overly suspicious of patterns and objects that they perceive.

Overall, pareidolia is a fascinating phenomenon that can have both positive and negative effects. Understanding pareidolia can help us better understand our own brains and how we perceive the world around us.

Do you want to expand your knowledge on this topic? Read our full in-depth article on cognitive biases.

Do you have extra 15 minutes today? Take our fun and interactive quiz to learn which of 16 reasoning styles you use, your overall level of rationality, and what you can do now to improve your rationality skills.


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