2 - Testing Subjects
- Identify 5 people (family and friends outside of class)
who are not aware of this activity. Keep all subjects unaware
of the upcoming experience.
- Test each subject individually. Ask them to sit down in
a location that other subjects cannot observe. Rotate the
headshot so that the image "stands on its head" (the eyes
and mouth, however, will appear rightside-up).
- Show the upside-down headshot to your subject. Have them
describe the whole image in terms of what they see. Ask:
Is the person in this photo happy? Sad? Does anything appear
strange about this image? Record their responses, noting
whether they describe the face as upside-down or rightside-up.
- After the subject has commented on the headshot, rotate
it to its upright position. Have the subject describe what
they see and record their response.
- Repeat the activity with the same subject and discuss
how the appearance of the person in the photo changes through
the rotation. If there is a change, at what point does this
(At a certain point the image no longer appears to be a
rightside-up person (with distorted facial features) that
is undergoing major tilting. Our conception of it "jumps"
to an upside-down image that tilts upwards, and the distortions
- Why was it important to keep the subjects unaware of
(You wanted to make sure that the initial response was not
influenced by what they "expected" to see.)
- How many subjects did not observe the flipped-over features
during their initial trial?
(Most will have missed the inconsistencies in the image.)
- Once they were made aware of the effect, were the subjects
still "tricked" by the image?
(Answers will vary.)
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,