This Illusion Might Tell You How Creative You Are

by Megan Grant

We've long theorized about exactly where our sense of creativity comes from — and in case you've ever also been curious about whether there's a way to determine your level of creativity, it turns out that it can done with the help of a well-known optical illusion. The meaning of the rabbit duck illusion says that people who are able to see both animals easily are more creative in general. Most people can see the duck, but have difficulty seeing the rabbit — so if you can see both, congratulations! You probably have a greater sense of creativity than most people.

To test the validity of the rabbit duck illusion, research published in 2011 in the British Journal of Psychology had participants consider everyday objects and list as many uses for them as they could in two minutes. The uses could be both conventional and unconventional. Then, the participants were shown the rabbit duck illusion and asked which animal they saw. If they saw both, the researchers recorded how long it took the participants to be able to flip between the rabbit and the duck.

The results confirmed the theory: Participants who could switch between the animals the fastest were also able to find an average of three more uses for the everyday objects, compared to the participants who had trouble switching between the rabbit and the duck.

While this research quite recent, the rabbit duck illusion is much older. Its first use was reported in a German magazine in October of 1892; additionally, the earliest it was found in an introductory psychology book dates to 1911. A version of it was also shown on a BBC TV show called Right Hand, Left Hand back in August of 1953, creating the opportunity for almost 4,000 viewers to analyze it. Surprisingly, there was no connection between which side of the brain they were using and which animal they saw. There was, however, a difference according to demographic: Although most viewers saw the duck, women and older viewers more often saw the rabbit.

Since its inception, the rabbit duck illusion — and how people view it — has been studied and analyzed relentlessly. It's one of countless illusions that play tricks on our mind. Which animal do you see?

Image: Fotolia