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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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The Mona Lisa Gaze Effect

The Mona Lisa Gaze Effect

(p.639) Chapter 92 The Mona Lisa Gaze Effect
The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions

Dejan Todorović

Oxford University Press

The Mona Lisa effect is the phenomenon in which certain portraits appear to direct their gaze at observers almost regardless of where observers are located with respect to the picture. This phenomenon has been well known for almost 2,000 years, yet it has not been studied much. The effect does not essentially depend on the motion of the observer. Rather, the effect is due to the fact that perception of gaze direction of a “looker” does not depend only on the position of the irises within the sclera but also on the orientation of the looker’s head with respect to the observer.

Keywords:   Mona Lisa effect, gaze direction, portraits, perception, orientation

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