Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

We recognize less attractive faces best: How attractiveness interferes with recognition of faces

Date:
February 4, 2014
Source:
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Summary:
We tend to remember unattractive faces better than attractive ones, according to new research. Psychologists write that attractive faces without particularly remarkable features leave much less distinctive impressions on our memory.

Psychologists of Jena University showed photos of attractive and unattractive faces to test subjects. During the ensuing test phase they were again shown faces and they had to decide if they recognized them.
Credit: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU

Psychologists at the University of Jena (Germany) have demonstrated that we tend to remember unattractive faces more than attractive ones. In the journal Neuropsychologia the psychologists write that attractive faces without particularly remarkable features leave a much less distinctive impression.

Great eyes, full lips and harmonious features: actress Angelina Jolie is in possession of all of these. That she is regarded as the epitome of female attractiveness doesn’t come as a surprise for Dr. Holger Wiese of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany). “Her features combine many factors which contribute to the attractiveness of a face,” the psychologist says. In his research, he mostly deals with the perception of faces. ”On the one hand we find very symmetrical and rather average faces appealing,” he explains. “On the other hand, people who are perceived as being particularly attractive stand out by additional traits, which distinguish them from the average.” Apart from being attractive, features like big eyes or a distinctively shaped mouth ensure a high recognition value. “We tend to remember those faces well,” according to Wiese.

But this isn’t generally true for all attractive people – as Wiese and his colleagues, Carolin Altmann and Professor Dr. Stefan Schweinberger have shown in the new study. “We could show that the test subjects were more likely to remember unattractive faces than attractive ones, when the latter didn’t have any particularly noticeable traits,” Holger Wiese says.

For their research the psychologists of Jena University showed photos of faces to their test subjects. One half of the faces were considered as being more attractive, the other half as less attractive and all of them were being thought of as similarly distinctive looking. The test subjects were shown the faces only for a few seconds to memorize them. During the ensuing test phase they were again shown faces and they had to decide if they recognized them.

The scientists were surprised by the result: “Until now we assumed that it was generally easier to memorize faces, which are being perceived as attractive – just because we prefer looking at beautiful faces,“ according to Wiese. But the new scientific results are showing that such a correlation cannot be easily sustained. Moreover, Wiese and his colleagues assume that the recognition in the case of attractive faces is distorted by emotional influences which exacerbate the recognition at a later time. This is suggested by evidence from the EEG-recordings during the memory tests.

Additionally the Jena psychologists’ study revealed a further interesting secondary aspect: In the case of attractive faces, scientists detected considerably more false positive results. In other words: in the test phase the test persons stated that they recognized a face without having seen it before. “We obviously tend to believe that we recognize a face just because we find it attractive,“ Wiese supposes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Holger Wiese, Carolin S. Altmann, Stefan R. Schweinberger. Effects of attractiveness on face memory separated from distinctiveness: Evidence from event-related brain potentials. Neuropsychologia, 2014; 56: 26 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.12.023

Cite This Page:

Friedrich Schiller University Jena. "We recognize less attractive faces best: How attractiveness interferes with recognition of faces." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204101714.htm>.
Friedrich Schiller University Jena. (2014, February 4). We recognize less attractive faces best: How attractiveness interferes with recognition of faces. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204101714.htm
Friedrich Schiller University Jena. "We recognize less attractive faces best: How attractiveness interferes with recognition of faces." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204101714.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins