Rabbit-Duck Illusion

Contribute to this entry Contribute this entry Rabbit-duck illusion

An ambiguous figure in which the brain switches between seeing a rabbit and a duck. The duck-rabbit was "originally noted" by American psychologist Joseph Jastrow (Jastrow 1899, p. 312; 1900; see also Brugger and Brugger 1993). Jastrow used the figure, together with such figures as the Necker cube and Schröder stairs, to point out that perception is not just a product of the stimulus, but also of mental activity (Kihlstrom 2002).

Jastrow's cartoon was based on one originally published in Harper's Weekly (Nov. 19, 1892, p. 1114) which, in turn, was based on an earlier illustration in Fliegende Blätter, a German humor magazine (Oct. 23, 1892, p. 147).

Interestingly, children tested on Easter Sunday are more likely to see the figure as a rabbit, whereas when tested on a Sunday in October, they tend to see it as a duck (Brugger and Brugger 1993, Kihlstrom 2002). Brugger and Brugger (1993) has provided a comprehensive catalog of duck-rabbit variants, along with data on their ease of reversibility.

The illusion is the inspiration behind the children's book Duck! Rabbit! (Rosenthal and Lichtenheld 2009).

Wolfram Web Resources

Mathematica »

The #1 tool for creating Demonstrations and anything technical.

Wolfram|Alpha »

Explore anything with the first computational knowledge engine.

Wolfram Demonstrations Project »

Explore thousands of free applications across science, mathematics, engineering, technology, business, art, finance, social sciences, and more.

Computerbasedmath.org »

Join the initiative for modernizing math education.

Online Integral Calculator »

Solve integrals with Wolfram|Alpha.

Step-by-step Solutions »

Walk through homework problems step-by-step from beginning to end. Hints help you try the next step on your own.

Wolfram Problem Generator »

Unlimited random practice problems and answers with built-in Step-by-step solutions. Practice online or make a printable study sheet.

Wolfram Education Portal »

Collection of teaching and learning tools built by Wolfram education experts: dynamic textbook, lesson plans, widgets, interactive Demonstrations, and more.

Wolfram Language »

Knowledge-based programming for everyone.