Which faces do we remember best?

Who I am
Robert Maurer


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How many faces do we see every day? How many can we remember at the end of the day? Surprisingly, we find it easier to remember those faces that displayed positive emotions, particularly those that smiled. In a study, in which 72 volunteers took part, they were presented with 16 faces with various attributes: emotional expressions, of intelligence and with different sizes of the nose. Each face was observed for five seconds. Some faces showed cheerfulness while others expressed anger. After a minute of distraction the participants were shown some faces with neutral expressions, among which there were also the previous faces. The results were qualitatively better in recognizing cheerful faces while that contrary to what was supposed, the variation in the size of the nose did not improve the results but quite the opposite. But… the ability to remember also implies the ability to improve memory. Thus, a second part of the experiment developed in which people were asked how clear their memories were. Then even more significant differences appeared. In fact, if the faces showed the same emotions there was no significant difference in the memory. And anyway the happy faces were the most remembered. Thus, it seems that people don't pay as much attention to facial features. So, if you want someone to remember you, just smile ...

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