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Encyclopedia > Ames room

An Ames room is a distorted room that is used to create an optical illusion. It was invented by American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr. in 1946 based on a concept by Hermann Helmholtz. An optical illusion is any illusion that deceives the human visual system into perceiving something that is not present or incorrectly perceiving what is present. ... Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine which deals with the diseases of the eye and their treatment. ... Adelbert Ames Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... 1946 was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (August 31, 1821 – September 8, 1894) was a German physician and physicist. ...

An Ames room is constructed so that from the front it appears to be an ordinary cubic-shaped room, with a back wall and two side walls perpendicular to each other and perpendicular to the horizontally level floor and ceiling. However, this is a trick of perspective and the true shape of the room is trapezoidal: the walls are slanted and the ceiling and floor are at an incline, and the right corner is much closer to the front-positioned observer than the left corner (or vice versa). Three dimensions A cube (or hexahedron) is a Platonic solid composed of six square faces, with three meeting at each vertex. ... Perspective when used in the context of vision and visual perception refers to the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes or dimension and the position of the eye relative to the objects. ... A trapezoid (American English) or trapezium (British English) is a quadrilateral two of whose sides are parallel to each other. ...

As a result of the optical illusion, a person standing in one corner appears to the observer to be a giant while a person standing in the other corner appears to be a midget. The illusion is convincing enough that a person walking back and forth from the left corner to the right corner actually appears to be growing or shrinking.

Studies have shown that the illusion can be created without using walls and a ceiling; it is sufficient to create an apparent horizon (which in reality will not be horizontal) against an appropriate background, and the eye relies on the apparent relative height of an object above that horizon.


Honi phenomenon

A type of selective perceptual distortion known as the Honi phenomenon causes some married persons to perceive less size distortion of the spouse than a stranger in an Ames room.

The effect was related to the strength of love, liking, and trust of the spouse being viewed. Women who were high positive in this area perceived strangers as being more distorted than their partners. Size judgements by men did not seem to be influenced by the strength of their feeling toward their spouse. (Dion & Dion, 1976)

See also

Forced perspective is a filmmaking technique to make larger objects appear smaller to the viewer or vice versa, depending on their relationship to the camera and each other. ...


  • Dion KL, Dion KK (1976). "The Honi phenomenon revisited: factors underlying the resistance to perceptual distortion of one's partner". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 33 (2): 170-7. PMID 1271208

External links

  • "Ames Room." Illusion Works. Accessed on 2005-08-16.
  • "Diagram of an Ames Room." Kenneth M. Steele - Department of Psychology - Appalachian State University. Accessed on 2005-08-16.
  • "Image: illustration of how an Ames room is constructed." Accessed August 16, 2005.
  • "Ames Room." Accessed August 16, 2005.

  Results from FactBites:
Ames Room (1861 words)
Since the two visible corners of the room subtend the same visual angle to the eye through the peephole, the two corners appear to be the same size and distance away.
The retinal image produced by the distorted room is identical with (and therefore indistinguishable from) that of a normal cubic room.
This suggests that in addition to one's perception of the cubic nature of the room, a mental expectation of the room's shape is also formed separate from one's perception of it.
  More results at FactBites »



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