Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Michael Beran

Second Advisor

David Washburn

Third Advisor

Seyda Özçalışkan

Fourth Advisor

Jessica Taubert


Face pareidolia is the misperception of a face in an inanimate object and is a common error of the face detection system in humans. Whereas there are many similarities in how humans and nonhuman animals such as monkeys perceive and respond to faces, it is still unknown as to whether other species also perceive this illusion. I presented a novel computerized task to capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and pre-school aged children (Homo sapiens). This task trained subjects to choose faces over nonface images, and then presented pareidolia images with nonface images. All species selected faces most often on trials that included face images. However, only children selected pareidolia images at levels above chance. These results suggest that while children do perceive face pareidolia, monkeys do not. These species differences could be due to human-unique experiences that result in a sensitivity to extracting face-like patterns in objects.


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