- uploaded: Jan 5, 2010
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Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse.
Carl Sagan hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are "hard-wired" from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.
A projective test, as it intentionally elicits the thoughts or feelings of respondent which are `projected' onto the ambiguous inkblot images.Projection in this instance is a form of "directed pareidolia" because the cards have been deliberately designed not to resemble anything in particular.
There have been many instances of perceptions of religious imagery and themes, especially the faces of religious figures, in ordinary phenomena.