September 2005
Volume 5, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2005
Perversible Figures: An Ironic Process in Perception
Author Affiliations
  • Clarissa R. Slesar
    New School University
  • Arien Mack
    New School University
Journal of Vision September 2005, Vol.5, 349. doi:
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      Clarissa R. Slesar, Arien Mack; Perversible Figures: An Ironic Process in Perception. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):349.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Wegner and colleagues found an ironic hyperaccessibility to thoughts Ss were instructed to suppress under conditions of high cognitive load which they called the Ironic Effect. Wegner proposed that the Ironic Process underlying this effect entails the integration of two parallel processes: an effortful cognitive process which searches for distractors, and an automatic process which monitors the occurrence of the forbidden target thought (Wegner, et al. 1987). We explored whether there might be a perceptual analogue to this effect by presenting Ss with one of two reversible figures (Duck/Rabbit, Cat/Swan) and asking them either to hold (maintain) or to try not to see (suppress) one of the two views. Using two computer keys, Ss recorded which construal they were perceiving during a two-minute observation period. In comparison to a control group (N=32) that were given no suppression or maintain instructions, the experimental Ss (N=64) perceived the undesired view of the figure for significantly greater periods of time than its alternative. We conclude that instructions to suppress or maintain one construal of a reversible figure creates a high perceptual load resulting in a perverse effect that appears to be the perceptual analogue of the ironic effect. This phenomenon has the potential to increase our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the perception of reversible figures and the Ironic Process itself.

WegnerD.M.SchneiderD.J.CarterS.WhiteT. (1987). Paradoxical effects of thought suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 5–13.

Slesar, C. R. Mack, A. (2005). Perversible Figures: An Ironic Process in Perception [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 5(8):349, 349a,, doi:10.1167/5.8.349. [CrossRef]

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