Do you never forget faces? What does this show about you?

In a world-first study published in the journal Cognition, an international team of researchers has come up with some surprising results about face recognition.

What type of person are you: someone who has trouble recognizing faces, or someone who never forgets a person they met before?

The fact is, the better you know faces, the more supportive relationships you’ll have, regardless of your personality type.

In a world-first study published in a journal CognitionAn international team of researchers has reported some surprising findings about face recognition.

The first finding is that someone’s ability to recognize faces has nothing to do with how outgoing or social they are. But what is clear is that good memory for faces is related to the number of close, high-quality relationships people have.

Specifically, researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA), University of Western Australia (UWA) and Curtin University, along with US colleagues from Wellesley College and Harvard Medical School, conducted four separate studies involving more than 3,000 people. the relationship between face recognition, social networks and personality traits.

In tests where participants memorized new faces or familiar faces, their scores were correlated with the number of close relationships they enjoyed.

Lead researcher, UniSA psychologist Dr Laura Engfors, says: “People who recognize more faces tend to have wider supportive social networks, which bodes well for their overall health and happiness.”

“In particular, the increase from the lowest (2) to the highest (28) number of successfully recognized faces in the test coincided with six additional close connections from 9 to 15. This difference is a 2/3 increase (about 66%).”

It has nothing to do with someone being social

The study found no correlation between facial recognition and sociability.

“Our findings rule out the idea that being sociable can make you great at recognizing faces. It also helps dispel the misconception that not knowing someone means you’re less social,” she notes.

Being able to recognize faces more easily means we can develop relationships more quickly.

“Imagine you had an interesting conversation with someone you just met. You will see him again in a few weeks. If you get to know him quickly and easily, it opens the door for you to develop the relationship you created on your first date, helping the relationship move forward. Conversely, if you don’t know him, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make that first initial interaction,” he says.

Dr Linda Jeffery, a researcher at Curtin University and one of the authors of the study, says that when someone gets to know us, our self-esteem increases.

“It can make us feel important and valued, so we can have a closer relationship with that person, whereas we feel bad if someone we’ve met before doesn’t recognize us,” she said.

Jeremy Wilmer, a Wellesley College psychologist and co-author, hopes the findings will be used to create stronger communities that facilitate human connection.

Professor Jeremy Wilmer says: “Understanding that not everyone is easy to recognize faces can help us socialize with the people around us.”

“Something as simple as name tags at a barbeque or school function can make the difference between a relationship being made and lost. Also, if you see a glint of uncertainty on someone’s face when you greet them, remember that they’ll appreciate it if you help them remember where they know you from,” he adds.

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