The Fat Face Thin Illusion

Peter Thompson from the University of York (UK) discovered an amazing optical illusion that will shock you! By now we have all learned that faces are more difficult to recognize when they’re upside-down and that sometimes we misperceived the facial expressions of upside-down faces (as was shown in Margaret Thatcher Illusion).

What I have prepared for you today is a slightly different example called The Fat Face Thin illusion. Your assignment is to compare the upside-down face on the left of the lower figure with the upright face on the right. Have you noticed how the upside-down version looks much thinner?! Moreover it appears longer shaped than the upright version. Of course, there is no need to mention how both pictures are identical. This illusion illustrates the internal features of the face (eyes, nose, mouth) can distort our perception of face shape. To boost up the effect, cover the right photo with your palm, and concentrate on the left photo for a while!

88 Replies to “The Fat Face Thin Illusion”

    1. Damn this is stupid. You can tell he’s fat either way.

      What kind of idiot gave that guy money to call this “research”? Bitches been trying to trick people since Myspace.

    2. it figures that if someones face appears swollen or “fat” someone automatically say this person is a “fatty” even someone who weighes less than 100 pounds can look “fat” if you doctor the pic just right. i can’t believe there are people out there that are so shallow that look at someone’s size to see what kind of person they bare

    3. This is for Traci: This guy is indeed fat. He’s an actor and recently he guest starred on the show “Doctor Who”. His name is James Corden if you want to look him up. He has plenty of pictures on his IMDB page that show his abdomen.

  1. I’m not seeing the illusion here. Both photos look identical to me except that one is upside-down and the other one isn’t. Other than that, the face looks exactly the same in both photos. Neither one is thinner or fatter than the other.

    1. The reason the left face looks thinner, is that the double chin on the right defines him as fat. In the left version what you see as the line that defines the face is the end of the first chin. The double one you only see when you search for it.

    2. This just your eyes playing tricks on you. We consider his double chin as size to his face, now that it is on top we consider it as adding length to his face now making him look thinner.

  2. I don’t know how to explain it, but when you look at the upside down face, I tend to look at the inside ridge of the face so it looks skinnier, and when you look at the rightside up face, I tend to look at the outside of the face which you normally see as fatter.

    So for some reason, the brain, at least mine :) tends to see the inside contour or ridge of the face making it look skinnier than it is.

    Good illuision.

  3. Amazing… I have the illusions on my Google homepage which just displays the upside down image. When I first saw just the 1 image I thought it was a thin face upside down. Now that I have seen both, When I see the google homepage I now just see a fat face upside down….

    I think the illusion works best if you don’t see them side by side. See the upside down face first, then look at the right way around, then you’ll see a big difference

  4. Fail zajackengalpie, all comments have to be approved so there isn’t any way of knowing if you’re first or not. My first impression was that the upside down face looked a bit thinner, however, they both look like they need to skip dessert :P

  5. So to summerise, all people who are worried they have a fat face, need to do handstands and move around everywhere upside down. Even if the illusion doesn’t work, people will wonder what they are up to rather than they have a fat face – a win win situation :)

  6. I wonder if our inclination to ‘expect’ gravity to drag the forehead and hairline down in both instances lends to the illusion of longer or shorter facial area.

  7. Do you think it’s the position of the picture or the direction of the lighting? Wonder if you took the same pose with lights from below next to a picture with lights above if it’d have the same effect?

  8. It seems to me to be more a result of the shadows? My brain wants to ignore the shadow on the face on the left, or make it part of the background, so the lighter part of the face gives him a pointy skull. On the right my brain says his face is causing the shadow, so it seems blockier.

  9. Actually,its because you don’t notice the neck fat at first, upside down (the shadow makes it unnoticeable).If you look closer,it’s obvious,
    rendering this illusion useless, It’s not that bad anyway. Cool!

  10. in other news, men do not pay attention as much to womens fatness when they are upside down or lying on their back.

  11. They look like two different photos BECAUSE I am using a DSi and I can easily turn it upside down but when comparing the pictures, the EYES looked very different, the on on the left had more widely opened eyes than the right one. Which makes this optical illusion, to me ‘invalid’ (I will check this on a PC when I get a chance.)

  12. Maybe it’s because I recognized him immediately from an episode of Doctor Who, but he looks exactly the same to me upside down and right side up.

  13. Im not seeing it. This man has a fat face no matter how you present it to me. The neck rolls really make his fatness pop out at you, even when upside down.

  14. It seems the same both ways… :/
    The man is simply obese. Right side up, or upside down. If being upside down made you appear thinner, 60% of Americans would be cruising by on their hands. :D

    1. I KNOW! British actor, was in an episode of Doctor Who, and he’s adorable. I am SO over a-holes making fun of fat people. There’s no diet that cures being an overentitled jerk. If your only “flaw” is you weigh more than me, I sure am not going to notice it.

  15. if this doesn’t fool your brain then you must not have much going on in your brain. if you disagree with me, you’re fooling yourself.

  16. This isn’t an illusion, it’s just our tendency to shift our vision from their eyes downward, not upward. With the upside down picture, we see their eyes, and move towards the hairlines. If you instead shift upward and see his fat chin, the illusion is broken.

    1. You mean like in those things, what do you call them, ‘optical illusions’? When you look at something and it looks different, like an optical illusion. Yeah, I think they’re called optical illusions.

  17. I didn’t see it, they both look fat… Asked all my flatmates too and they all found it to be fat.

    Maybe try it with a less recognisable face? we know he’s fat so we look for that monstrous double chin.

    1. His face is still fat – that isn’t the issue. But it does look somewhat thinner on the left because of the oddball position we aren’t used to seeing.

  18. stupid illusion: they look the same: fat ugly guy in both pictures. you brain must be very altered with so many years of drug abuse to see a thin face.

  19. It’s not an illusion, nobody is able to look at James Corden’s stupid face without thinking he’s a twat, so it doesn’t work.

  20. Flip the photo upside down rather than rotating it by 180 and then compare all three. The flip will look better than the rotate.

  21. I have been demonstrating this year after year with my employee id’s . . . I look MUCH better when they’re upside down, even better upside down and at a bit of an angle. Thanks for backing me up! LOL

  22. He is the father of Stormageddon, Dark lord of all – I wouldn’t make fun of him if I were you. He’s perfect.

  23. He looks thinner, but it’s no illusion. We look at the lower half of the face, upside down his lower half is the top, which is slimmer. It’s slimmer and looks tight because all the fat in his face sags and pulls on the flesh. It’s like a reverse face lift.

  24. it’s just because we discredit hair when he focus on a ‘fat face’ – but upside down a persons barnet is then taken into consideration and, as it is clearly bigger, is more noticeable where we aim to look.

    if you look at both pictures regarding to size of the top of his head (hair0 to the bottom, they look exactly the same.

  25. Thats a picture of James Corden. He appeared in the episopde called “closing time” in the new series 6 of Doctor Who most recently, but that was to reprise the role as he had played the character of Craig Owens before

  26. Um … the guy on the left looks exactly the same as the guy on the right, except he’s upside down. I do not see a difference in weight, but I’m an artist, so I perceive things differently, I suppose.

  27. Disillusion may be based on the fact that we are so used to light coming from above rather than below, that our minds automatically assume lack of material in shaded or darker areas at the top of a photo.

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