Gaze cueing by pareidolia faces

Kohske Takahashi*, Katsumi Watanabe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Visual images that are not faces are sometimes perceived as faces (the pareidolia phenomenon). While the pareidolia phenomenon provides people with a strong impression that a face is present, it is unclear how deeply pareidolia faces are processed as faces. In the present study, we examined whether a shift in spatial attention would be produced by gaze cueing of face-like objects. A robust cueing effect was observed when the face-like objects were perceived as faces. The magnitude of the cueing effect was comparable between the face-like objects and a cartoon face. However, the cueing effect was eliminated when the observer did not perceive the objects as faces. These results demonstrated that pareidolia faces do more than give the impression of the presence of faces; indeed, they trigger an additional face-specific attentional process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-492
Number of pages3
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Face-like objects
  • Gaze cueing
  • Pareidolia
  • Social attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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