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The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions$
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Arthur G. Shapiro and Dejan Todorovic

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199794607

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794607.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 September 2021

About Face

About Face

The Margaret Thatcher Illusion

(p.633) Chapter 91 About Face
The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions

Peter Thompson

Oxford University Press

Inverting the eyes and the mouth in a smiling face renders the expression grotesque. However, when this image is itself rotated through 180 degrees, the grotesque expression is no longer apparent—the smiling expression returns. This illusion, first shown with the face of the then UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, has been explained as showing the detrimental effects of inversion on configural or holistic processing of faces. This explanation is, however, not entirely satisfactory and the illusion is still not fully understood. Variants and relevant parameters of the effect are explored, as are related concepts of inversion, expression, and face perception.

Keywords:   face perception, Thatcher illusion, inversion, expression

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