Free research idea: Optical illusions and humor
On occasion, I will post a research idea that I don’t have time to pursue. Here is the first.
I was recently visiting my friend, Marcel Zeelenberg (a man who knows how to live). He showed me this optical illusion:
Marcel was quite pleased and thought the image was funny.
I believe that optical illusions are often amusing – at least the first time that they are viewed. From a benign violation theory perspective (no pun intended) an optical illusion creates something that is both wrong and okay. The famous art work by M.C. Escher, for example, does this by creating a three-dimensional violation using a two dimensional space:
You can easily create your own amusing optical illusions with a camera. Peruse the internet, and you will find people messing with the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, kissing the Sphinx in Egypt, or holding the Taj Mahal in India. It also helps to have a little sister:
Prediction: The first time people (usually children) see optical illusions similar to these they will be amused. The illusions won’t necessarily but laugh-out-loud funny because the violations are rather mild, but people will find them funny, nonetheless.
Anyone out there want to test this hypothesis? Go for it (and consider using this video as stimuli.)