Bistable perception

Bistable perception is a phenomenon caused by a visual stimulus, which generates two different perceptions in the subject who sees it. Bistable perception instances result in particular from:

  • The Necker cube
  • the Rubin’s vase
  • the duck / rabbit illusion

Cases of bistable perception attract the interest because they raise questions about the causes that lead to the bistable phenomenon of perception, but also because there are individual differences in this type of sensitive perception. In particular, the frequency changes or the duration of one of the alternative perceptions vary considerably among individuals. This raises questions about the factors that induce this or that particular response with regard to this phenomenon, in a given individual.

The bistable perception can also be regarded as a special case of multi-stable perception, where only two different views are possible from the same stimulus.

One can also consider the two types of resulting alternative perceptions as two interpretations of the same visual stimulus. The bistable perception most commonly studied are visual ones, but there also exists instances of bistable perception in other sensory modalities: auditory, olfactory, etc.


Ambiguous images Arbitrary focus Bistable perception Complementarity relationship Conflict resolution Conflict resolution with matrices of concepts Conflict types relating to matrices of concepts Contrary relationship Dialectical contextualism Dialectical monism Dialectical monism in Aztec philosophy Dialectical monism in Heraclitus Dichotomic analysis Dichotomic analysis applied to paradox resolution Dichotomous reasoning Disqualification of one pole Disqualification of the positive Dualities Dual poles Extreme opposition General cognitive distortions Instance of one-sidedness bias Matrix of concepts Maximization Mental filter Minimization Bistable cognition Omission of the neutral One-sidedness bias One-sided viewpoint Opposition relationship Principle of dialectical indifference Requalification into the other pole Reference class Reference class problem Reference class problem in philosophical paradoxes Reference class problem in the Doomsday argument Reference class problem in Hempel’s paradox Reference class problem in the surprise examination paradox Selective abstraction Specific cognitive distortions System of taxa Two-sided viewpoint Viewpoint of a duality Viewpoint of a pole