Psychological Mystery in Daily Life: Why Mirrors Reverse Left and Right


Mystery of a mirror image

This question is too difficult to solve in this article. It still remains a mystery unsolved for more than 2000 years. Maybe, some secrets like this should stay secret to keep the world fun. Anyway, if I remember correctly, It’s a scene in the film “Dead Poets Society.” The students of the boarding school tried to eat with their non-dominant hands. They said “It’s for being out of the box.” I, at an easily influenced age, soon imitated it. Using chop sticks with a left hand (I’m right-handed) was difficult, but there was another thing that I found much more difficult. It’s brushing teeth.

Brushing teeth with a non-dominant hand

It was surprising because brushing teeth seemed to be easier than eating and writing. Making matters worse is a mirror. Why don’t you give it a try? I’m sure you’ll be also confused in the direction, angle, and everything of brushing. When struggling with a toothbrush in my left hand, I noticed a man in the mirror (me in the mirror) held the toothbrush in his right hand.

Whether or not you can change your viewpoint

It is a distinct memory of the moment when I noticed my image was flipped in the mirror. You may think I’m just dull, but it’s not only me. A psychological article said more than 30% of people didn’t perceive that their own images were also reversed like mirror letters. What makes the difference between people who are sensitive and insensitive like me is whether or not they can have a viewpoint from inside the mirror. By the way, the perception of mirror letters is a kind of human function. It’s automatically activated without viewpoint movement, according to the psychological article.

A craftman is checking the wood part of a chair frame.

Before the COVID, we participated in many furniture exhibitions. Especially in big ones, production people from participating makers inspect new products of other makers. I like to see their reactions to our products because I can learn about our products with a different viewpoint. Their remarks are always more about structure, technique, etc. They are a big help to see our products from the viewpoint of production, especially to me who is insensitive and took time to have a viewpoint from inside the mirror. For your information, a comment frequently heard on our products is “How is it possible to sell this only for XXX?” Our products seem a good bargain from a production professional’s eye as well.

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

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