ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (2): 240-255.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00240

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇


陈子炜1,2, 付迪1,2,3(), 刘勋1,2()   

  1. 1中国科学院心理研究所行为科学重点实验室, 北京 100101
    2中国科学院大学心理学系, 北京 100049
    3汉堡大学信息科学系, 汉堡 22527, 德国
  • 收稿日期:2022-04-13 出版日期:2023-02-15 发布日期:2022-11-10
  • 通讯作者: 付迪,刘勋;
  • 基金资助:
    国家自然科学基金中德重大国际合作项目(NSFC 62061136001/DFG TRR-169)

Better to misidentify than to miss: A review of occurrence mechanisms and applications of face pareidolia

CHEN Zi-Wei1,2, FU Di1,2,3(), LIU Xun1,2()   

  1. 1CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3University of Hamburg, Department of Informatics, Hamburg 22527, Germany
  • Received:2022-04-13 Online:2023-02-15 Published:2022-11-10
  • Contact: FU Di,LIU Xun;


面孔视错觉现象表现为个体从其他事物中感知到并不存在的面孔。面孔视错觉要素已广泛应用于艺术、广告及商品中, 起到吸引注意、促进消费的作用。同时, 先前的研究通过采用各种范式, 发现患者在面孔视错觉的产生上同常人的差异, 以及视错觉与视幻觉之间的联系。根据视觉加工通路的不同, 相关范式可分为视错觉监测范式, 以及视错觉辨认范式。前者侧重于基于提取的类面孔特征所做出的快速预测, 后者侧重于主观期望引导个体对物体特征的提取, 两者最终均会影响到后续的认知判断。日后研究可从面孔视错觉的发生机制出发, 结合自上而下和自下而上两种加工通路, 为面孔视错觉产生机制提供理论依据, 并拓宽该要素在临床诊断及商业广告领域上的应用。

关键词: 面孔视错觉, 面孔加工, 发生机制


In real life, people occasionally perceive an object as something non-existent, called pareidolia. Among all forms of pareidolia, people are more likely to recognize a face from an object. Face pareidolia has been widely utilized in art, advertising, and design, but its occurrence mechanisms remain unclear. Previous studies have used various paradigms to explore the occurrence mechanisms of face pareidolia. According to the different paradigms used, the occurrence mechanisms of face pareidolia have been deeply discussed from top-down and bottom-up visual signal processing pathways. However, due to the variety of paradigms, face pareidolia occurrence mechanisms and potential applications are still in their infancy. There has been no systematic theoretical construction either. Based on the two visual processing pathways, we categorize two types of paradigms: the pareidolia monitoring paradigm (face pareidolia in a bottom-up pathway) and the pareidolia discrimination paradigm (face pareidolia in a top-down pathway). To provide future research insights, we summarize the two paradigms from three perspectives, including stimuli, experimental procedures, and measurements. In addition, according to the perceptual prediction model, there are similarities and differences in the occurrence mechanisms of the two paradigms. Both paradigms have analogy, association, and prediction processes. However, the pareidolia monitoring paradigm focuses on rapid prediction generation through a single analogy and association process. The pareidolia discrimination paradigm focuses on the subjective expectation codes feedback to the analogy association process and then affects the subsequent prediction. In addition, the applications of facial illusions in clinical diagnosis, product, and advertising packaging are also listed. First, children with autism are less likely to produce face pareidolia than normal children, but they are still able to have face pareidolia. Moreover, there are connections between visual illusions and visual hallucinations in clinical diagnosis. Pareidolia could be used as a measurement of subclinical hallucinations. In commercial applications, the prominence of pareidolia elements in paintings, architecture, and advertising can attract consumers’ attention and facilitate their emotional or trait attributions to objects and consumer behavior. Future studies are suggested to develop new paradigms to explore further the interaction between top-down and bottom-up mechanisms of face pareidolia.

Key words: face pareidolia, face processing, occurrence mechanisms