Which way is the girl spinning?

Yes, I know this is a suggestive silhouette that was no doubt created by a man. BUT: see if the visual effect does not bend your brain.


The question is very simple: is this figure, as viewed from the top, rotating clockwise or counterclockwise? If you’re like me, you’ll have an immediate and unshakable opinion on the matter. One glance and I was certain it was clockwise. I was so certain that I was extremely puzzled when I read that it’s possible to perceive this as rotating in the other direction. It made sense; there are no depth cues to the profile. And yet I could not imagine how I might jump start my brain into seeing it go the other way. My eye flitted away from the screen briefly, and then POP! I’m now seeing it spin counterclockwise. Now I can’t see it go the other way. Can you switch your brain from one direction to another on demand?

This short piece in the Australian Herald Sun puts a pop psychology gloss on it, which is probably about as meaningful as a horoscope, but the claim is that if you’re a clockwiser, then you’re a right-brained bearded herbal tea drinker. And you wear those weird, comfortable shoes. Otherwise, you went to MIT. Those being the only two kinds of people in the world and all.

After a little Googling, I came across this impressive site dedicated to optical illusions. His take on the spinning girl effect is that you can reverse the direction by looking at the shadow. Work for you?

5 thoughts on “Which way is the girl spinning?”

  1. I read to the sentence “the question is very simple…” then I looked at the picture and saw it unambiguously clockwise. Then I looked away and looked back and saw it counter-clockwise. Then I read further down your text and saw that you’d had the same experience. Then I read your question could I will it to go either way on demand, so I willed it to go either way on demand.

    There’s a strange transition between seeing-her-clockwise and seeing-her-counterclockwise where she looks like a flat figure undergoing a purely two dimensional transformation.

    p.s. hubba hubba

  2. well, i do have a few pairs of birks, merrells, etc…..she is predominantly clockwise for me, but i could get her to switch after a few seconds. for bill she was counter-clockwise for quite some time until he saw her switch. interestingly, drew looked and said, this way, no , that way, now shes back going this way…hey what’s going on? So is he bound for Birks and Warren Wilson College or MIT?? Or all three??

  3. Well I could get her to spin anti-clockwise only once. But I cannot manage it again. She is otherwise always clockwise..and I never did apply to MIT and am quite certain I wouldnt have made the cut

  4. this has nothing to do with ur brain
    just look at the opposite side of her outer leg and u;ll see her spin that way
    u decide where u want to see her spin by looking at the opposite side,
    if u follow her foot she wont’ never stop spinning

  5. The illusion occurs because of trying to look at the whole picture at the same time. If you look at one point on the picture, perhaps a toe or a finger, it becomes very easy to see the picture is spinning counterclockwise.

    It’s a good illusion, and shows us how sometimes we get the wrong view if we try to look at too much at one time.

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