It is reported that Brisbane researchers have accidentally discovered that looking too quickly at the appearance of others can be disturbing.
The Flashed Face Distortion Effect is a visual quirk that a team from The University of Queensland's School of Psychology discovered by accident while preparing for an identification experiment.
While rapidly skimming through a collection of faces from a Slovakian data-base aligned at eye level, Dr Jason Tangen, Sean Murphy and Matthew Thompson noticed some faces appeared "aesthetically challenged".
But on closer inspection the team found the faces that had appeared "deformed or grotesque" while scrolling proved to be "normal or attractive" when still.
They supported their finding with the help of a video in which one has to stare at the cross in the centre of the screen. This makes the faces appear deformed, but after replaying the video and looking directly at the faces and they appeared normal.
Thompson, a Fulbright Scholar and provisional PhD candidate, said the effect was linked to the way humans processed faces in the light of others.
"By aligning the faces at the eyes and presenting them quickly, it becomes much easier to compare them, so the differences between the faces are more extreme," he said.
"If someone has a large jaw normally, it now looks almost ogre-like. If they have an especially large forehead, then it looks particularly bulbous.
"But if you pause the video, blink a few times, and then look at the faces, they look completely normal or even attractive," he added.