Finding faces

Find out why we see faces in inanimate objects and learn about what features are most important in recognising a face.

a girl is holding up two cardboard eyes over a light switch making it looks as if it's a face
By adding eyes you can make things look like they have faces, Image credit: The Royal Institution

Aims

Make anything look like a face.

ExpeRiment with how we see faces.

Learn which facial features are the most important for us to recognise a face.

About this activity

Faces come in all shapes and sizes, and we’re incredibly good at recognising them. In this activity you will explore your ability to find faces in everyday objects.

By going out and looking for faces on inanimate objects you will learn about what combination of features is crucial in allowing us to recognise what we see as a face. 

Seeing faces, or familiar objects in random patterns is part of a phenomenon known as apophenia. This has been described as our need to make sense of randomness and find patterns and meanings where there aren’t any. So a cloud that looks like a dog fits into our model of the world better than a shapeless mass of water vapour.

18 and 19 August holiday workshops cancelled

Due to planned transport strikes, all holiday workshops on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 August are cancelled.