Associating Facial Symmetry to Enhanced Memory Retention

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Associating Facial Symmetry to Enhanced Memory Retention
Justine Mahler
Penfield Library
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Subjects / Keywords:
Facial Symmetry
Memory Sensitivity


Being able to recognize and recall faces of others has been particularly significant to human life throughout history. It is a skill we often overlook and take for granted, but without this ability, reproductive success, and therefore fitness value, would be drastically reduced. Facial recognition and memory are particularly reproductively relevant because it allows us to recognize potential mates and differentiate them from others, such as kin or relatives. This study focuses on uncovering effects on recognition and memory when observing faces of varying attractiveness. If attractiveness is strongly encoded in memory, then we expect to see faces rated higher in attractiveness to be more efficiently remembered in a memory test when compared to faces rated with a lower attractiveness score. To test this, participants were first shown a series of faces and asked questions relating to their attractiveness, such as whether they would’ve been comfortable approaching this person or if they felt this person was friendly or intelligent. After completing the attractiveness rating portion, participants were then subject to an unrelated questionnaire before given an unanticipated memory test on the faces. This memory test consisted of a second series of faces that contained some of the same facial images previously shown and some new facial images. Participants were then asked for each image if they recalled seeing the given face earlier. The results will either support or contradict the hypothesis that faces rated with a higher attractiveness will be better encoded in memory than faces rated with a lower attractiveness.
Collected for SUNY Oswego Institutional Repository by the online self-submittal tool. Submitted by Justine Mahler.

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SUNY Oswego Institutional Repository
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SUNY Oswego Institution
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!""#$%&'%()*+&$%&,*-.//0'1.*'#*2(3&($04*50/#1.*60'0('%#( 78"'%(0*5&3,019*!4&/*+&.9*:3;<; !"#$%&'&(#)*+,-./0+1/2)3456)7"8+(& !"#$%&'(#!%" [1] Nairne, J. S., & Pandeirada, J. N. S. (2016). Adaptive memory: The evolutionary significance of survival processing. Perspectives on Psychological Science , 11 (4), 496 Ð 511 [2] Weihai, T., Si, X., Yuxia, L., Xuejun, B., & Xiping, L. (2015). Survival processing memory advantage comes from natural selection: Evidence from cross age comparison and reproduction scenarios. Acta Psychologica Sinica , 47 (4), 503 Ð 513 Background Research has shown that memory is enhanced when processing information with respect to fitness value or survival relevant information. ! The Survival Processing Advantage shows that when processing words based on their survival value, performance on a memory test would improve [1]. ! Previous research shows a higher accuracy of free recall in scenarios of mate selection and raising a child in comparison to the self reference control scenario. This supports the notion that reproductive relevant information is efficiently processed in memory. [2]. Many studies support a connection between reproductive success and improved memory, but others have failed to reveal any significant association. Purpose This project was designed to test whether aspects of physical attractiveness Ñ facial symmetry Ñ produce better results when determining retention accuracy. Predictions We predicted that memory would be better for symmetrical faces than asymmetrical faces. This would display enhanced memory in relation to reproductive success. $)*'+#* (%"(+'*!%"* $),)$)"()* -)#.%& Subjects. ! 73 psychology students participated in exchange for extra credit. Method. ! Participants were presented with a series of facial images varying in facial symmetry and were asked to rate them on 5 dimensions for an unrelated study. ! Participants were then asked to complete an unrelated questionnaire to separate the interval between seeing the first sequence of faces and the second. ! During this evaluation participants were unaware that they would later be asked to recall some of the faces from the first sequence. D' was calculated as a measure of memory sensitivity for the dependent variable. ! Lastly, participants were presented with a second series of facial images Ñ eight images being from the first sequence and eight faces being new. Based on these faces, participants were asked to determine whether they had seen the face in the first sequence. There was a significant effect on facial symmetry increasing memory sensitivity for the second faces. Further research could determine whether fitness value is encoded highly in memory. Implications ! These results suggest that faces that present more structural symmetry are more likely to be remembered than faces that are more asymmetrical. ! This research establishes strong evidence for the correspondence between facial symmetry in regard to fitness value and memory retention. ! More broadly, this study supports the relationship between enhanced memory encoding in regard to reproductive relevant information. ! Future studies could test whether other aspects of reproductive success and fitness value are also encoded to a higher degree than fitness irrelevant information. ! We used a 1 way within subjects ANOVA and found a main effect of facial symmetry on memory sensitivity, F(1,72)=6.882, p=0.011 !"#$% !"&$' ! !"# $ $"# % %"# & &"# ' '"# !"#$$%&'()*+ ,#$$%&'()*+ -%$.'#/,%0"(&(1(&# !"#"$%&'%()**"+,)