Geek Trivia

Which Of These Optical Illusions Can Be Enlisted To Aid In Weight Loss?

The Orbison Illusion
The Hering Illusion
The Delboeuf Illusion
The Bezold Effect
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Answer: The Delboeuf Illusion

The Delboeuf Illusion, named after the Belgian mathematician Joseph Delboeuf who created it in the late 1880s, is a simple illusion wherein there are two identically sized filled-in circles placed side-by-side, but one of the circles is surrounded by another circle (ring). Despite the identical size of the two filled-in circles, people consistently rank the circle-within-the-circle as being smaller because the presence of the outer circle (ring) creates a perceptual error.

So how can an optical illusion that creates a perceptual error in size help anyone lose weight? It turns out that the same mechanism that leads us to believe the circles are not equal in size can also apply to serving sizes on plates. In a series of experiments, researchers from Georgia Tech and Cornell University demonstrated that study participants consistently took up to 13 percent more food than they intended when using larger plates. The smaller the plate, the more likely the participants were to not only portion out less food than the people with the larger plates, but to undershoot their portion goals by 12 percent.

The take-away? Serve your meals on smaller plates. The smaller the plate, the bigger the food looks and the less likely you are to over serve (and over eat).