We Recognize Unattractive Faces Better Than Attractive Ones

Ugly? Well, here’s a silver lining: at least you’re memorable.

A study published in Neuropscyhologia found that we’re better at remembering unattractive faces than attractive ones. Researchers had their test subjects review a handful of pictures of faces for a few seconds each. Half were chosen as attractive, the other half as attractive. Test subjects were then shown a second set of pictures, some of which were from the first set, and some were new. Subjects had to identify pictures they’d seen before.

The researchers were surprised with the results, writing, “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.” Actually, when it comes to attractive faces, the test subjects gave far more false positives, suggesting we tend to think that we recognize a face simply because it’s attractive.

 Photo by Wes Naman.

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