Pretty faces are less likely to be remembered than unattractive ones, according to a new study.
Psychologists at the University of Jena in Germany have demonstrated that attractive faces without particularly remarkable features leave a much less distinctive impression.
Great eyes, full lips and harmonious features: actress Angelina Jolie is in possession of all of these, researchers said.
That she is regarded as the epitome of female attractiveness doesn’t come as a surprise for researchers Holger Wiese and colleagues, Carolin Altmann and Professor Stefan Schweinberger.
“Her features combine many factors which contribute to the attractiveness of a face,” Wiese said.
“On the one hand we find very symmetrical and rather average faces appealing. On the other hand, people who are perceived as being particularly attractive stand out by additional traits, which distinguish them from the average,” he said.
Researchers said apart from being attractive, features like big eyes or a distinctively shaped mouth ensure a high recognition value.
“We tend to remember those faces well,” said Wiese. But this isn’t generally true for all attractive people as Wiese and his colleagues have shown in the new study.
“We could show that the test subjects were more likely to remember unattractive faces than attractive ones, when the latter didn’t have any particularly noticeable traits,” Wiese said.
The psychologists showed photos of faces to their test subjects. One half of the faces were considered as being more attractive, the other half as less attractive and all of them were being thought of as similarly distinctive looking.
The test subjects were shown the faces only for a few seconds to memorise them. During the ensuing test phase they were again shown faces and they had to decide if they recognised them.
The scientists were surprised by the results.
“Until now we assumed that it was generally easier to memorise faces, which are being perceived as attractive – just because we prefer looking at beautiful faces,” said Wiese.
But the new scientific results are showing that such a correlation cannot be easily sustained.
Wiese and his colleagues assume that the recognition in the case of attractive faces is distorted by emotional influences which exacerbate the recognition at a later time.
The study was published in the journal Neuropsychologia the psychologists.