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Author sparks discussion with 'apple visualization scale' showing differences in how people imagine

This method of 'visualizing' apples is challenging people on how different imagination works for different people.

Author sparks discussion with 'apple visualization scale' showing differences in how people imagine
Representative Cover Image Source: (L) Pexels | Bruno Scramgnon (R) Twitter | @johngreen

When you picture something in your mind, what does it look like? Let's take a regular item like an apple, for example. Picture it for a few moments. What does it look like in your mind? Is it clear? Colorful? Author John Green recently blew people's minds on X (formerly known as Twitter), after sharing an illustration that shows how the process of imagination can look to different people.

"It's baffling to me that some of y'all see stuff in your mind," the author tweeted on October 1. "You SEE it? The way your eyes see? I always thought 'visualize' meant thinking of the words/ideas/feelings associated with a thing, not actual visuals. I am such a total 5 on this scale I didn't know 1-4 existed."

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Zen Chung
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Zen Chung

According to In The Know, the image first went viral in 2020 and is referred to as the "apple visualization scale." It features five different silhouettes of the human head against a black background. Each image has a particular depiction of an apple. People can use a scale of 1 to 5 to visualize an apple. If you imagine an apple to look like the apple at 1, you visualize a clear image of the fruit whenever it is mentioned. But as you go up the scale, the details decrease considerably. By 5, you don't see a vivid image of the apple in your mind when thinking of one.


Apparently, this exercise can reportedly be used to determine whether someone has aphantasia, which is the inability to create mental imagery. It is not any medical condition or disability, but it just means your mind works differently, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Having it means you do not have a visual imagination, keeping you from picturing things in your mind. A person with aphantasia has a brain that does not form or use mental images as part of their thinking or imagination.


"The Fault in Our Stars" writer's tweet has over 22 million views and has wowed many of his followers to test their own minds against the scale. Green wrote in another tweet on X, "This may also be why I am often wrong about what's behind a particular cabinet in our kitchen even though I have lived in this house for a decade. I also cannot, like, tell you the layout of a room unless I'm in that room and looking at the layout. And I have no sense of direction. None. Is there something wrong with me?!"

@nicholeeze1 asked the author, "When you're reading does it turn into a movie? Can you 'see' characters??" To which the 46-year-old replied, "No, it's just text. Very occasionally--I can count the number of times it's happened on one hand--I will suddenly feel as if I can glimpse something visually that's in a story, but 99.99% of the time, it's just text. Is that unusual? Now I'm freaking out!"

@SimsYStuart responded to the writer, telling him he had nothing to worry about. "You’re experiencing what’s called aphantasia and it freaked me out too when I first learned about people like you. But I come from the opposite direction - I’m hyperphantasiac which means within my imagination I experience visual, hearing, smell/taste and touch. And I always assumed everyone else experienced something similar," they wrote. What do YOU see?


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