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The Spinning Dancer Illusion

4.6 based on 5 ratings

Updated on Jan 10, 2014

Grade Level: 5th - 8th; Type: Psychology

To find out whether people see a clockwise movement or a counter-clockwise movement more easily.

The purpose of this experiment is to view an optical illusion and find out whether a person is using their left or right brain hemisphere.

  • What evidence is there to suggest that the right brain controls creative thinking?
  • What evidence is there to suggest that the left brain controls analytical thinking?
  • How do optical illusions work?

The left and right hemispheres of the brain control different mental processes. In general, the right hemisphere is in charge of creative thought while the left hemisphere controls analytical, or logical, thought. Viewing the optical illusion of the spinning dancer can give some insight as to whether a person is right or left brain dominant. By focusing on the illusion for a few moments more many people are able to switch the way they see the image and see it spinning the other way around. This optical illusion works because there is no point of reference and the figure is all in one color.

  • The internet
  • 10-20 volunteers

  1. Load the following website onto a computer: http://www.switched.com/2007/10/15/the-trippiest-optical-illusions-on-the-net/

  2. Have test subjects view the illusion one at a time, where they cannot hear each other’s answers.

  3. Ask your subject which way the dancer is spinning. Record the results on a chart such as the one below.

  4. Have your subject fill out a short questionnaire, such as the one below. The example below shows which answers are indicative of right or left brain dominance. Make sure you do not show these indicators to your test subjects.

  5. Have your subject look at the dancer once more. Again ask them which way she is spinning.

  6. Have your subject complete 3 algebra problems (you can use other math problems if they do not know algebra).

  7. Have your subject look at the dancer once more. Again ask them which way she is spinning.

  8. Have your subject draw a picture of an imaginary animal.

  9. Have your subject look at the dancer once more. Again ask them which way she is spinning.

Subject 1
Subject 2
Subject 3
Initial Direction

Direction after Questionnaire

Direction after math problems

Direction after drawing

Questionnaire:

Circle the best answer for each question:

I enjoy drawing.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more right brain…………………………………………more left brain)

I enjoy math.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more left brain…………………………………………more right brain)

I enjoy reading non-fiction.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more left brain…………………………………………more right brain)

I enjoy reading fiction.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more right brain…………………………………………more left brain)

I like to spend time with many people.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more right brain…………………………………………more left brain)

I like to spend time on my own or with one close friend.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more left brain…………………………………………more right brain)

I enjoy watching comedy shows.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more right brain…………………………………………more left brain)

I enjoy watching documentary programs.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more left brain…………………………………………more right brain)

I like to receive written instructions.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more left brain…………………………………………more right brain)

I enjoy open-ended projects.

Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never

(more right brain…………………………………………more left brain)

Terms/Concepts: Illusion; Hemisphere (or the brain); Right-brain; Left-brain

References:

Writer and educator Crystal Beran is rarely seen without a pen. Her adventures have brought her to four continents and her quest for answers has led her to discover more questions than she could fill all the pages with. She currently resides in Northern California, where she can be found sipping tea and writing books.

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