How do illusions work psychology?

The answer may not be a simple one. The theory of illusions is simple, but does it have the scientific merit to withstand the rigor of empirical investigation?

I recently wrote a blog post called How Illusion Works. I wanted to explain in a simple way why illusions work. You can check out a full version of the posts here, here, and here.

In this post, I want to summarize some interesting findings that I’ve collected and some of the findings that you might come across during your research. If you’re more interested in the details, then I refer you to our book on psychology illusions.

The basic rules of illusion

The rules of illusion are very intuitive. In fact, all of the basic rules have been discovered by humans through many experiments.

1. Visualization of the object – a picture of the shape that you’re trying to perceive.

2. The illusion of seeing a shadow – the human imagination uses an image, usually a visual representation of the shape and color of the shadow.

3. Illusion of distance – the distance of the shadow does not exceed the distance of the object. In most cases, it’s less than one meter. For a very long shadow, you might have a line on the surface of the shadow that overlaps the actual distance of the object.

4. The illusion of depth – the illusion involves two mirrors at fixed distances. The distance of these mirrors changes only if the image and the object are near (if they’re in the distance of the object, the mirror is farther away) or not in the distance of the object. In the distance, the shapes remain symmetrical. In an object where the edges are not symmetrical, the lines of the mirror move.

Let me give you a quick reminder of all this.

The illusion of seeing a shadow represents a relationship between the visual input and the shadow. It is possible for one observer of the shadow to observe the shadow, while another observer sees the shadow as being closer than it actually is.

For example, let’s say it’s midday. On the way home from work, you see a light on the street in front of you. Although you may notice the streetlight, you will always be aware that the light is nearby, but you do not perceive it as being closer than it actually is. In other words, it is possible to see the streetlight as being closer than it actually is.

Similarly, the illusion of seeing a