What You See First In This Visual Personality Test Reveals What's Most Important To You In Life

You may learn something new about who you truly are.

fish mermaid donkey horse seal optical illusion personality test

While free personality tests on the internet are by no means an accurate measure of who you are as a person, they’ve proven to be fascinating nonetheless. Internet personality tests make it fun and easy to uncover little hidden pieces of yourself that may give you some insight into who you are.

In one such popular meme, what you see first in the optical illusion is said to reveal whether you're right- or left-brained. The meme suggests that the ambiguous figure is either a mermaid or a fish, and the way you interpret it supposedly provides insight into the dominant side of your brain.


What you see first in this optical illusion personality test reveals not only if you're right- or left-brained, but what's most important to you in life.

Simply determine the first thing you see in the image without thinking too hard, and then scroll down to see what it reveals about what you think is important, based on the symbolism commonly associated with each.

fish mermaid donkey horse seal optical illusion personality test


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1. If the first thing you saw was a horse

Horses are prestigious animals known to symbolize freedom, endurance, majesty, spirit, determination, and courage.

If you see a horse in this image, you embody the free-spirited nature of the horse. You're a particularly determined person who isn’t afraid to face challenges head-on.

2. If the first thing you saw was a seal

Seals, which share traits of both water and earth elements, are symbols of playfulness, intuitiveness, harmony, and happiness.

If you see a seal in this image, you're laidback and drawn to adventure. Just as the seal is comfortable on land and in water, you find it easy to adjust to new situations and go with the flow.


3. If the first thing you saw was a fish

Fish are symbolic of rebirth, fertility, luck, change, health, and emotions. Associated with water, fish are also known as symbols of tranquility and balance.

If you see a fish in this image, you’re very in-tune with your emotions and aren’t afraid to express them. You have a strong intuition and can adapt well in just about any situation.

4. If the first thing you saw was a mermaid

Mermaids are symbols of beauty, nonconformity, and femininity.

If you see a mermaid in this image, you're someone who always remains true to themselves. Just as mermaids cannot be tamed, those who see a mermaid in this image revel in their uniqueness.


5. If the first thing you saw was a donkey

Donkeys are symbols of honor, growth, service, and intuition.

If you see a donkey in this image, you’re a hard worker with a strong sense of responsibility. You’re also loyal, but your strong intuition keeps you from blind loyalty. While many may say you’re stubborn, in truth you just know to trust your gut and proceed with caution when it feels necessary.

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What does it mean if you saw a fish or mermaid?

According to the meme, if you see a fish, you're right-brained; if you see a mermaid, you're left-brained.


But without any explicit motivation, such as a stated reward, it's most likely that the animal you saw first is one that represents values and personality traits you find favorable or advantageous.

Does seeing a fish, mermaid, donkey, horse, or seal in the optical illusion mean you're left- or right-brained?

In reality, what you see in this optical image likely has nothing to do with being either left- or right-brained.

As it turns out, this particular image was first introduced in 1968 in the journal "Perception & Psychophysics" as an example of ambiguous figures created for use by psychologists in any of a variety of experiments.

The image was again repurposed for a 2008 study at Cornell University that has nothing at all to do with being left- or right-brained; rather, it looked at how people's "motivational states — their wishes and preferences — influence their processing of visual stimuli."


Researchers Emily Balcetis and David Dunning wanted to discover whether or not an objectively ambiguous image would be perceived differently by participants if they felt motivated to see one figure or another.

Participants were shown black and white drawings of animals. Half of the participants were told that seeing farm animals would be worth positive points, and seeing sea animals was worth negative points; the other half were told the opposite.

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Each participant accumulated points based on their choices, and their points would determine something they would consume after completing the image task: zero points equated to water, positive points equated to candy, and negative points equated to a can of beans.


The final image used to determine their total points was this ambiguous image, which the researchers referred to as the "ambiguous horse–seal figure."

horse seal optical illusionPhoto: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2006 Vol. 91, No. 4, 616

The researchers found that, when hoping to see a farm animal, 66.7% of participants saw a horse and 33.3% saw a seal. Meanwhile, when hoping to see a sea animal, only 27.3% saw a horse and 72.7% saw a seal.


Motivated by wanting to eat candy instead of canned beans, “Participants tended to see the interpretation of the figure that they desired to see, rather than one they wished to avoid,” the study concluded.

What this means is that when you’re motivated to see something a certain way, you’re more likely to see it that way.

It can’t be understated that these types of personality tests are solely for entertainment purposes and are not meant to be an accurate analysis of your psychological makeup or well-being — a fact demonstrated by this particularly popular personality test that made its rounds online.

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Micki Spollen is a YourTango editor, writer, and traveler. She also runs the travel blog Where In The World Is My Drink.