Most people have never heard of the term Pareidolia, let alone know what it means, but nearly everyone has experienced it. Have you ever looked at the clouds and saw the shapes of different animals? That’s what Pareidolia is – the “imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist”, according to the World English Dictionary. Basically it’s seeing animals in the clouds or Jesus in your toast.
When we look at Rorschach ink blots and see something other than a blob of ink – that’s Pareidolia too. Tell me, what you see? (She asks in her best Dr. Freud impression…)
Pareidolia is a type of Apophenia, (so many big words today!), which is a more generalized term for seeing patterns in random data (source: Urban Dictionary). Numerology is a great example of this!
Where am I going with this? Here’s where…
As I’m sure you’d agree, creative individuals are more likely to see patterns in random things than the average joe. Well, accordingly to the article Characteristics of Highly Creative People, creative people make more use of their “mental raw material and practice less intellectual regulation”. Essentially what that means is creative people spend more time thinking about things from every angle/view possible and then they come up with more angles, seeing more than what the average person would. While doing this, the dorsolateral prefrontal region of their brain – responsible for things like censorship – becomes way less active, allowing them to express more options and outcomes.