Age Test

Let’s run a little experiment. How old is the woman in the picture?

If you know about this experiment, please don’t spoil it for everybody else. For now, I can say that my experience didn’t confirm the findings. Or maybe I’m developmentally stunted.

26 thoughts on “Age Test

  1. I saw a young woman first and then an older woman second. Of course the young woman was facing away, which obscures her approximate age via her eyes and mouth ( the eyes, especially, are always a tell). You cannot tell if she is happy or sad (which again show up in the eyes and the mouth.) The older woman is not happy, if a little baleful. The younger woman could be anywhere from mid twenties to mid 30. Perhaps even forty. The older woman is not older than 50 and all the way down to a hard 35.

    This illustration is very famous. I’m not sure what this says about me.

    Or maybe I’m developmentally stunted.
    Nah. Me, on the other hand… 🙂


  2. The image you posted is cropped from the original, which strongly skews the viewer’s perception toward the young woman. It’s much easier to see the old woman in the original drawing:


    1. Ok, here is the answer:

      According to Australian scientists, people under the age of 30 see a young woman. And people over that age see an old one.

      It remains a mystery why I keep seeing a young one.


      1. When I see myself in the mirror I see myself at age 28. It is really weird. I do not recognize myself in photographs because what I see in the mirror corresponds to the past.


        1. When I look in mirror, I see myself as a well-preserved, ramrod straight, impressive looking 73 ( which is an accurate image). But at night, in my dreams, I seem to be ageless, and back in my prime, dealing with typical adult problems and contemporary individuals just as I did 40 years go.

          When I was a staff psychiatrist at a California State Hospital in the 1970s, I felt sad when several of my older patients told me this. But perhaps this one way the human mind accepts the realities of aging, after all.



      2. I think it’s mostly a function of how close you are to the picture: the closer you are, the more likely you are to see a young woman; if you are viewing from further away then the old woman is more salient. (This is also why the cropped version skews the percept towards the young woman because it in effect brings the viewer closer to the picture.)


  3. I think the more interesting question is how difficult you find it to see both, and to switch back and forth. I saw the older one first, which makes sense for me age-wise, but I knew the younger one was in there because I’ve seen the picture before. It took me some careful looking to be able to see her. Then I could only see her for a while. Now I can switch back and forth fairly easily, but I think it’s the help of signposts (ear or eye? mouth or neckline? etc.) that makes that possible.


      1. “I still have great trouble seeing the older one”

        That’s partly because the old woman is unrealistic (gigantic honker and weird jutting chin) and a bit grotesque , it doesn’t really look much like a real older woman.
        The younger woman is a bit more realistic.


    1. Did I notice the gorilla? Instantly — it was the most interesting creature in the video. As for correctly counting the number of times women in white passed the ball, only an idiot savant (google the term, if you don’t know what that means) could do that.

      Studies testing “eye-witness” perceptions have been done in which unsuspecting subjects were robbed at gunpoint by actors playing criminals, and none of the panicked witnesses noticed that the robbers were pointing bananas at them instead of guns.

      Here’s a scary hidden-image photograph for Democrats:


        1. \ It’s Marina Tsvetaeva, the great poet of Russian modernism!

          Only after reading your comment, I saw the hidden image. Cool!

          Only, after reading bloggers from Germany in the last days, I think it’s Angela Merkel who is way scarier when she wants to be and more foundation-shaking than the implied scary male person.


          1. I think that’s the point of the experiment. Everybody sees whatever is most relevant to them. Tsvetaeva is my most favorite poet in the world. And also a really shitty mom and not a very good person. Which, u guess, should mean we must burn her books.


            1. I discovered Brodsky a few days ago. Read his «Я входил вместо дикого зверя в клетку…» in English translation first and loved it, then found Бабочка


              My problem is not understanding quite a few more difficult words (since my Russian is junior school high) and sometimes not getting historical references, but I feel that when I find his poem I like – it is something even if I miss … something.


              1. Посылаю тебе, Постум, эти книги. Что в столице? Мягко стелют? Спать не жестко? Как там Цезарь? Чем он занят? Все интриги? Все интриги, вероятно, да обжорство. Я сижу в своем саду, горит светильник. Ни подруги, ни прислуги, ни знакомых. Вместо слабых мира этого и сильных – Лишь согласное гуденье насекомых.

                That’s one of my favorites by Brodsky. An amazing talent.


              2. And I know you don’t like swear words, but I absolutely have to share the poem my husband wrote yesterday on the subject of my struggles with the blasted diversity statement.

                Ночь, улица, фонарь, аптека
                На diversity statement высохли чернила
                И тут профессор Кларисса поняла,
                что Трамп не такой уж и мудила.


  4. Thanks for all the poems. 🙂

    Your husband’s is not the kind of swear word usage that is too much for me; it’s very tame.


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