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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. A substantial body of research has assessed the effect of gender on face recognition; however, little is known about the effect of relationship status on face recognition. In this study, we assessed for the first time how relationship status impacts face recognition by asking 62 male and female participants to decide whether they had ly encountered faces of males and females. Participants were also asked to fill a socio-demographic variables questionnaire which included, among other information, question about their relationship status i.
A ificant effect of relationship status on face recognition was observed only in males; namely, single males demonstrated higher face recognition than males in relationships, whereas similar face recognition was observed in single and in-relationship females.
More specifically, single males demonstrated higher recognition for female than for male faces, whereas no differences were observed in single females, males in relationships, or in females in relationship. Single males seem to be motivated by mating opportunity and, thus, unlike single females or males and females in relationships, devote high attentional resources to processing faces of the opposite gender. Face processing is a crucial social cognitive ability. Unsurprisingly, substantial literature has been devoted to this topic.
The advantage of females in face recognition can Single male for female 24 attributed to better perception of emotional expressions. Females are better at recognizing and interpreting emotional facial expressions, a difference already apparent in infancy McClure, There is also evidence that, on an attentional level, females process faces faster and more efficiently than males Bowles et al. Besides gender differences, face recognition may be impacted by relationship status i.
Single individuals may be more motivated by mating interest, and consequently, be more oriented toward the opposite gender than individuals in relationships. Accordingly, single individuals may be specifically interested in processing and retaining physical attributes e. More specifically, Maner et al. The potential effect of relationship status on face processing can be also understood in light of studies on mating motivations.
Participants were instructed that only one box could be removed to make their mating decision. showed that men prioritized facial cues in long-term mating contexts, but shift their priorities toward bodily cues in short-term mating contexts, whereas females prioritized facial cues over bodily cues regardless of the mating context. In contrast, females did not demonstrate such an influence in response to photographs of attractive men.
Single male for female 24 and Chang argue that perceptual attention in males has evolved to selectively process reproductive information about the opposite gender as a function of short- versus long-term mating goals. The effect of the mating context on face recognition was also reported by Wagstaff, Sulikowski, and Burkewho observed that when prompted for a short- rather than a long-term relationship, male participants showed an increase in their preference for looking at female bodies rather than faces, whereas female participants did not show this difference and generally preferred to look at male faces.
To summarize, while there is a body of evidence suggesting gender differences in memory for faces, little is known about the effect of relationship status on this type of memory. Our study addressed this issue by assessing face recognition in single versus.
We also expected a higher face recognition accuracy for the opposite gender faces in single participants, especially single males, than in participants in relationships. At the beginning of the experiment, participants completed a form about their age, gender, relationship status i.
We also excluded participants who performed two SD s below the mean score on the episodic memory task by Grober and Buschke On this task, participants had to remember 16 words, each describing an item belonging to a different semantic category; after a 20 s distraction phase, they had to recall as many words as they could; the maximum score is 16 points.
The mean score of participants was However, in order not to interfere with the relationship status variable, no mention of it was made in the instructions. The task was deed with the Psychopy Peirce, software package. We used a Dell laptop computer with a 15 in. LCD display. The task included an encoding, an interpolated, and a recognition phase. The encoding phase was followed by the interpolated phase implemented to prevent reliance on immediate memory in which participants had to read aloud strings of three-digit s for one minute.
Pictures were randomly presented, with no time constraint. We first compared the of single participants and participants in relationships in the two gender groups. We then compared recognition scores for female and male faces according to the gender and relationship status of our participants. The Single male for female 24 of the participants according to their gender and relationship status is depicted in Table 1.
Female participants showed higher face recognition than male participants, with respective means of. Further, single participants showed higher face recognition than participants in relationships, with respective means of. Higher recognition was observed for female than for male faces, with respective means of.
However, similar recognition was observed in single females and in females and males in relationships. Episodic memory scores, as obtained on the task by Grober and Buschkeare depicted in Table 2. All remaining effects were not statistically ificant.
This study investigated the effect of gender and relationship status on face recognition. Our analyses showed higher face recognition in female than in male participants, regardless of their relationship status. A ificant effect of relationship status on face Single male for female 24 was observed only in males; specifically, single males demonstrated a higher face recognition than males in relationships, whereas similar face recognition was observed in single females and females in relationships.
More specifically, single males demonstrated higher recognition for female than for male faces, whereas no differences were observed in single females and both females and males in relationships. In addition, higher episodic memory was observed in female than in male participants, whereas no ificant effect of relationship status was observed on episodic memory. Together, relative to males in relationships, single males demonstrated higher face recognition, especially for female faces, but similar episodic memory, whereas females demonstrated similar face recognition and episodic memory regardless of their relationship status.
Our findings replicate prior studies with regard to a higher general face recognition and episodic memory in female participants and b the own-gender bias in female participants, that is, the fact that these participants demonstrated higher recognition for female than for male faces. This finding also mirrors research demonstrating that females are better at recognizing and interpreting emotional facial expressions McClure, as that infant girls spend more time looking at faces than boys Connellan et al. Herlitz and Yonker found that females outperformed males on memory of verbal materials.
The superiority of females in verbal processing has been also observed for autobiographical memory Grysman, ; Grysman et al. Since our episodic memory task implied processing verbal information, it is not surprising that female participants in our study have outperformed male participants. With regard to the own-gender Single male for female 24 in female participants, research suggests that females perform at a higher level on female than male faces Cross et al.
In contrast, males do not appear to show a corresponding own-gender bias for male faces. Several studies have found that males perform at a similar level for both male and female faces Cross et al. According to another socialfemales may be more interested in female than in male faces due to the high value placed by society on female attractiveness Cross et al. Taken together, our findings replicate studies with regard to the higher general face recognition and episodic memory in female participants, as well as with regard to their own-gender bias.
Compared to other investigations of face recognition, the originality of our study lies in the assessment of relationship status. Our findings demonstrate higher face recognition in single females than in single males, as well as in females in relationships than males in relationships.
Accordingly, regardless of their relationship status, females seem to outperform males on face recognition. The main finding of our paper was the high face recognition in single male participants, especially for female faces. Female participants, on the other hand, demonstrated similar face recognition regardless of their relationship status or the gender of faces.
In our view, single males are specifically motivated by mating opportunity, and thus, tend to pay more attention to features of the opposite gender than single females do. On the other hand, individuals in relationships may benefit from affective and emotional comfort and stability, decreasing their motivation to process physical features of the opposite gender, which may explain why similar face recognition was observed in our female and male participants in relationships. This suggestion is supported by studies demonstrating that while single individuals increase implicit attention to physically attractive opposite gender targets, individuals in relationships are inattentive to such stimuli Maner et al.
More specifically, enhanced motivation triggers selective attention and deeper processingwhich can facilitate face encoding. This model is supported by research demonstrating bias toward low processing of female faces when males consider a short-term mating strategy Confer et al. Even though the individuation motivation does not take into the effect of relationship status, it does, however, provide support to the assumption that single males are motivated by mating opportunity, resulting in high memory for females faces.
The effect of motivation on face processing in single males can also be interpreted from an evolutionary perspective. Hence, this attentional selectivity may result in high processing of female faces in single males. Single females, on the other hand, do not seem to demonstrate such an attentional bias, probably due to their enhanced overall memory for faces.
That is, they process faces faster and more efficiently than males Bowles et al. One limitation of our study is the small sample size, which increases the risk of Type II statistical errors. Another is that we did not consider the duration of the relationship status of our participants.
Future studies should take into the duration of relationship as individuals in recently established relationships or those in open relationships may have high mating motivation, and thus, may demonstrate high face recognition. Another suggestion for future research is to explore face recognition according to sexual orientation, as single homosexual individuals may demonstrate higher face recognition for the same rather than for the opposite gender.
This issue is important because accuracy measures may not reflect attentional processes by themselves. By addressing these limitations, future research may provide a comprehensive picture of the effect of relationship status on face recognition. Regardless of its potential limitations, this study shows, for the first time, that relationship status does impact face recognition and not episodic memory in general.
National Center for Biotechnology InformationU. Journal List Adv Cogn Psychol v. Adv Cogn Psychol. Published online Nov Mohamad El Haj123 Ahmed A. Moustafa4 and Jean-Louis Nandrino 5. Ahmed A. Jean-Louis Nandrino Univ.
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