The Margaret Thatcher Illusion
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.
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