"Mona Lisa effect" does not occur with Da Vinci paint

adminJanuary 10, 2019

Madrid. In science, it effect Mona Lisa It refers to the impression that the eyes of the person portrayed in an image appear to follow the viewer as they move in front of the image.

Two researchers from CITEC at the University of Bielefeld show that ironically this effect does not occur with the world-famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Mona Lisa, discredit a scientific legend.

The experts present the results of the study in the journal i-Perception.

People are very good at assessing whether others view them or not. The psychology of perception showed it in the 1960s, Gernot Horstmann, a member of the Neurocognitive Psychology Research Group at the University of Bielefeld and the CITEC Excellence Group, said. He specializes in movement and eye care, and is one of the two authors of this new study.

People can feel that they are looking at them from photographs and paintings, if the depicted character looks in front of the picture, that is, with zero degrees anglehe explained.

"With a slightly sideways look, you can still feel as though you were watching it. This was perceived as the person who portrayed, looked at the ear, and corresponded to about 5 degrees from a normal viewing distance, but as the angle increased, this would have the impression Don't be felt.

Interestingly, we don't have to stop right in front of the picture to get the impression of being observed, even if the person in it looks forward., Sebastian Loth, of the cognitive social research team, is part of the Faculty of Technology and CITEC. "This impression occurs if we place ourselves to the left or to the right and at different distances from the image. effect Mona Lisa ".

Analysis with 24 people

In his research on communication with robots and avatars, Loth repeatedly found this term, coin in relation to the famous painting. "In itself, it is undeniable and demonstrable, but with Mona Lisa, of all the paintings we did not have this impression. "

To test this observation, Horstmann and Loth had 24 study participants Mona Lisa on a computer screen and assess the direction of your appearance. They sat in front of the screen. A simple folding rule was placed between them and the screen at different distances. Participants indicated where the sign's eyes were located.

To test on the individual characteristics of the face Mona Lisainfluenced the perception that the viewers had of their appearance, the researchers used 15 different parts of the portrait, from head to eyes and nose. Each image was displayed three times in random order.

Horstmann and Loth collected more than 2,000 evaluations this way, and almost all measurements indicated that Mona Lisa It is not direct but it is on the right side of the viewer. The result: The participants in our study had the impression that the character's gaze was oriented towards his right side. More specifically, the angle of view was on average 15.4 degrees, Gernot Horstmann pointed out.

"Therefore, it is clear that the term Mona Lisa effect It's just an inappropriate name. It illustrates the strong desire to be observed and the center of another person's attention, to be relevant to some, even if the person is not known at all. "

The viewing direction has an important role in the design of virtual figures or avatars for auxiliary systems or computer games. When we communicate with an avatar, for example in a virtual environment, the look enhances our understanding of the avatarexplained Sebastian Loth.

Using his gaze, the virtual agent can express his attention and point to objects that are or will be relevant to the task, such as a human being.

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