Rohrschach Tests: Fractals determine the imagery you perceive

Rorschach inkblots (like the ones shown in the picture) have had a striking impact on the worlds of art and science because of the remarkable variety of associations with recognizable and nameable objects they induce. Originally, these inkblots were adopted as a projective psychological tool to probe mental health, but now psychologists and artists have interpreted the variety of induced images simply as a signature of the observers’ creativity.

In this study, the researchers analyzed the relationship between the spatial scaling

Number of percepts, n, induced by the five black blots plotted as a function of the D value of their boundaries.

From the result, the researchers suggest that the perceived images are induced by the fractal characteristics of the blot edges. They also note, that humans have a remarkable sensitivity to fractals. Nevertheless, this fact is perhaps not surprising given that many of the physical fractals that define our daily visual environment exhibit fractal characteristics, but commonly overseen.
parameters of the inkblot patterns and the number of induced associations. A traditional technique was used for measuring a boundary’s dimension fractal D, referred to as the box-counting method. The boundary’s D value describes how the patterns occurring at different magnifications combine to build the resulting fractal shape. A smooth line (containing no fractal structure) has a D-value of 1, while for a completely filled area (again containing no fractal structure) its D-value is 2.

According to the researchers, their analysis of Rorschach inkblots provides an appealing framework for understanding the rich variety of visual associations induced by fractal patterns spanning psychology, art and nature. The fractal properties of the inkblots induce of a more ‘organic’ visual character, which might enhance the pattern’s ability to induce associations with nameable objects and/or recognizable imagery. Within this fractal model, low D-fractals provide the optimal distribution of spatial frequencies to induce the images. In contrast, the dominance of fine structure in high D-fractals appears to reduce the perception of recognizable images. Moreover, it is intriguing to note that self-reported creative people prefer to look at fractals with higher D-values.

Read the full study here:

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