A Psychologist Shared Photos From A Phenomenon Called The Thatcher Effect, And People Are Confused


The amount and caliber of the things that studies have found out about the human brain is mind-blowing, to say the least. The way our head communicates with the rest of the body, how it processes, and how it fills in the gaps when interpreting information gives quite a unique perspective on things.

A clinical psychologist recently took to TikTok to explain one of the more interesting phenomena about how our brains work called the Thatcher Effect, and soon went viral by creeping people out with science.

A psychologist recently introduced TikTok to the ‘Thatcher Effect’ that’s gotten everyone creeped out

@drjuliesmithcheck out my IGTV video for why this happens (link in bio) ##psychologyfacts ##illusion ##psychologytest ##psychologytricks ##psychology ##learnontiktok♬ Dr Julie Smith The Thatcher Effect – Dr Julie Smith – Psychologist

London-based clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Smith recently posted a short video on TikTok urging the viewer to take a good look at the photos that she shows. The photos are of English singer-songwriter Adele, former US president Barack Obama, and rapper Kanye West.

The photos, however, are flipped upside down. No biggy, we can recognize these people and their facial expressions even if they are shown upside down.

Now, Smith asked the viewer to flip their phone upside down so that they could see the face properly and oh my word, what is that?! The faces seem bizarrely altered—something people don’t tend to notice when it’s upside down. Smith explains this as the Thatcher Effect.

Apparently, our brain doesn’t see subtle discrepancies in faces that are upside down

Image credits: drjuliesmith

… but it immediately sees them if the photo is flipped right side up

Image credits: drjuliesmith

The Thatcher Effect is a phenomenon where it’s hard to identify localized changes in the features of an upside-down face, while the same changes are immediately obvious in the upright position.

The illusion is named after the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, on whose photograph the effect was initially demonstrated back when it was created in 1980 by Professor of Psychology Peter Thompson of the University of York, England.

The trick with the photos provided in the video is that the eyes and the mouth are flipped right-side-up in the upside-down photos. Our brain doesn’t notice this discrepancy as these features look fine—they’re the correct orientation, one that we’re used to seeing.

Psychologist Julie Smith who does educational psych videos pointed this out in one of her TikTok videos

Image credits: drjuliesmith

Image credits: wikipedia

It wasn’t long until the video went viral on TikTok. At the moment, the view count clocks in at a whopping 33.1 million views with nearly 4 million likes and over 68,000 comments.

For the most part, people were genuinely creeped out by this—mostly by flipping their phone and seeing the upright orientation. And who wouldn’t be? The eyes become something horror movie villains would have and the smiles look like an underdeveloped AI’s sad attempt at reconstructing a face.

Turns out, there’s also a website dedicated to this where you can see a number of other pictures that were modified with this effect, and you can even have the system Thatcher your picture.

Needless to say, TikTokers were genuinely creeped out by the sight of this

Image credits: thatchereffect

Image credits: thatchereffect

The Thatcher Effect is just one of many videos that Dr. Smith has put out. She has effectively turned all of her social media into an educational platform for all things psychology where she breaks down more or less complex concepts into short, easy-to-understand, and fun videos.

You can check out more of her videos on her YouTube or TikTok channel, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. But before you go, why not leave us your thoughts on the Thatcher Effect, or any other fun psychological phenomenon in the comment section below!

The video soon went viral, garnering over 33 million views on TikTok alone

Image credits: thatchereffect

Image credits: sofharris.wordpress

People on TikTok were creeped out by the sight… either that, or it was funny or confusing


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