The Coffer Illusion

the coffer illusion answer

There are 16 circles hidden in the picture. The first is highlighted above, and the rest should now be easy to perceive.

This fascinating image was created by Anthony Norcia of The Infant Vision Laboratory at Smith-Kettlewell. It is referred to as the Coffer Illusion due to its close resemblance to the 3-dimensional coffers usually found on wooden doors (a coffer is a decorative sunken panel). Dr. Norcia claims that the illusion works because segmentation cues are pitted against the observer’s strong conviction to interpret the image as a series of rectangular coffers with closed boundaries.

When Dr. Norcia tested this illusion on a group of 100 people, the average time taken to see the circles was 45 seconds. A few individuals were able to spot the hidden shapes after only 10-15 seconds, while other persons took much longer and/or required explicit hints to finally see the circles. How long did you take?

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  • miss cynic

    I love visual tricks like this – I would like to know however, what does it mean if you were quickly able to see all 16 circles? Does it reveal a person’s cognitive processes? Or have I just been staring at my screen too long today that!?

    • http://twitter.com/WhatisPsych What is Psychology?

      Hi there! In terms of cognitive processing the illusion is,
      at best, a rough measure of a person’s ability to discern segmentation cues despite seeing similar
      patterns in other contexts in everyday life. More controlled and in-depth
      testing would be needed to properly measure a person’s cognitive abilities.
      Nevertheless, it is definitely a fun illusion 😉

      • Robert Byrnes

        Thanks; I know everyone was wondering whether this would be a reliable method for testing discernment of segmentation cues.

  • John W.

    But I see 25? In between each 4 circles of the obvious 16 there are more circles.

  • llf

    I first thought it’s the “o” in the question, hOw, dO and yOu. 😉