Do people with a similar personality look physically similar? Science responds!

A new New York University study published in the journal Cognition suggests that knowledge of a person’s personality can influence the perception of a face’s identity. In other words: we tend to find people with similar physically similar personalities.

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“If the perception of others’ faces is systematically distorted by our previous understanding of their personality, as ours show discoveries, this can affect the way we behave and interact with them”, the researchers point out. They add that the research informs the scientific understanding of how face recognition works in the brain, suggesting that prior social knowledge plays an important role in facial perception.

Our brain makes people more alike if the personality is similar (Image: Marlon Alves/Unsplash)

The researchers conducted a series from experiments centered on the perceptions of famous individuals such as Justin Bieber, Vladmir Putin, John Travolta, George W. Bush, and Ryan Gosling, and found that when a participant believed that any two individuals were more similar in personality, their faces were perceived as more similar, too.

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Researchers used various techniques to assess how faces were perceived on a less conscious level. Subjects’ responses were measured with tracking software that uses hand movements to reveal unconscious cognitive processes. The study’s conclusion is that the perception of facial identity is driven not only by facial features such as eyes and chin, but also distorted by the social knowledge we learn about others, biasing it towards alternative identities, despite the fact that these identities have no physical resemblance.

Source: Futurity

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