The Illusion of the Ames Room Essay

The Illusion of the Ames Room

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            An Ames room illusion creates a sort of “David vs. Goliath” effect upon the viewer, as the subjects seemed unequally proportional in size to each other. The illusion it creates basically makes one subject dwarf the other, as both are believed to be standing on the same depth of field. At first glance, both subjects could be since it looks like a simple square room with the two individuals—the subjects for this illusion—projecting a huge difference in size. However, in reality, they are actually of the same size.

            The major cause for this illusion is the room’s shape itself. Through a peephole, the room looks like a normal cubic room but, in reality it is not. It is actually a trapezoidal room, from the flooring to some of its walls (Illusion Works 1997). This trapezoidal shape helped in creating an image of one individual dwarfing the other. If this is the case, how does the human brain receive the illusion to create something that seems real?

            The illusion actually persuades the individual to believe that the subjects are actually standing in a similar depth of field (Van Wagner, It affects the human perception as the viewer looks through a peephole, which removes any signals from stereopsis—two slightly different projections of the world using two eyes. It creates an illusion of a normal looking room with two individuals hugely different in size, when they are actually not.

            The limitation of one eye to view the room completely as opposed to viewing it with two eyes creates the Ames Room illusion. The limited retina disallows the person to properly scale the sizes of the subject, as well as the actual distance of the room itself. The room’s shape would appear normal through a peephole mainly because the viewer only uses one eye to view the room. Using two would reveal its true shape, as both retinas are used in order to transmit an image. Having only a singular transmitter, the illusion would appear somewhat unbelievable, as the room would appear to be normal while the subjects in it would not.


Illusion Works. (1997). Ames Room. Retrieved April 27, 2009 from <>

Van Wagner, K. (2005). Understanding the Ames Room Illusion. The Ames Room Illusion. Retrieved April 27, 2009 from <>

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