Tag Archives: Personality Memory

But is it really Gina?

I’m well aware that weight loss, ageing and remodelled or drawn-on eyebrows can mess up our natural face recognition abilities, but even though, I’m not 100% convinced the lady in the photos is really the Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart. I feel that the lady in the photo has quite a different personality than Rinehart, kinder but perhaps not as canny.

If this lady is the real Gina, I’m sure she’s had work done on her face, and in my opinion, her unique personality can no longer be seen in her face. I hate watching the fascinating faces of famous women all morph into that homogenous face of the older woman who has had her face done over.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart shows off amazing weight loss. Daily Telegraph. July 1 2016.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/mining-magnate-gina-rinehart-shows-off-amazing-weight-loss/news-story/145abfd505908795a600d5bb7e7b9197

 

Advertisements

Can you spot a sex offender or a terrorist just by looking at their face?

Adee, Sally Controversial software claims to tell personality from your face. New Scientist. May 27th 2016.

Similar story also in print: Issue 3076. June 4th 2016.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2090656-controversial-software-claims-to-tell-personality-from-your-face/

 

When you wake up with the melody of a love song wafting through your mind like the scent of jasmine on a summer’s night…..

….you know you stayed up way too late watching a Bollywood movie the night before. I stayed up late the other night watching most of the 176 minutes of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, starring the incomparably gorgeous Shah Rukh Khan and beautiful Anushka Sharma. I should have been an Indian, with my love of music and bright colours.

Much as I adore Bollywood movies, especially ones with Shah Rukh Khan in them, I’ve taken a few viewings to warm to this film, probably because I don’t like the gender politics in it, as is the case with most Bollywood movies and I also don’t like the stereotypically negative depiction of introverts, as is often found in both Bollywood and Hollywood movies. One positive thing I can say about this film is that it proves the acting talent of the delightful male lead, because the plot of the film would be totally implausible if not for his ability to convince the audience that his wife in the movie could be fooled by her husband knowing her in close relationships both in his real persona and in a synthesized character who is his extreme opposite in terms of the introversion/extroversion spectrum of personality dimensions. Obviously both characters have the same face, so how could a wife not recognize her own husband’s face, playing a different character? I guess that premise is believable in light of the fact that face recognition ability is found in humans in a spectrum of ability, or a “bell curve” or a natural distribution. Most people are pretty good at it, a few excellent, and I guess the same number of a few really bad at recognizing faces. And there are other things that can confuse visual person recognition such as hairdos, facial hair, posture, habitual fashion styles, gait, voice and above all, personality, which is the spirit or mind that animates our bodies and faces. Shah Ruhk Khan and the make-up and fashion professionals who worked on this movie have expertly altered all of the above features of a persona (besides the basic face structure) in the two characters he plays, with such skill that the actor’s face no longer plays the usually dominant role in person recognition, even for a super-recognizer such as myself.

Upon some reflection, I’ve concluded that the degree of attention to the face of both personas of the male lead character are not reduced to the same degree. I think I paid much more attention to the sexy persona’s face than to the nerdy persona’s face, even though they are the same face. I guess that is just how that kind of attraction works; it demands and keeps attention. No surprises there, but if this is generally true it gives a nice clue to how to hide or disguise identity. I guess it is no accident that the stereotypical disguise consists of props that make a person less attractive, things such as spectacles or fake facial hair. Does a less attractive face draw less attention, and as a result is it less likely to be well-encoded in visual memory, and is it then less likely to be recognized later?

Can I really believe a plotline in which a wife repeatedly fails to recognize her own husband wearing a disguise that reveals his face rather than covers it? I’m not sure it matters that much when I just love watching the actors the dancing and the colours, but for sure Shah Rukh Khan’s ability to turn his industrial-strength charisma on an off like a tap is the only thing that makes this film believable in any shape or form.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1182937/

 

Not just faces

There I was last night watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show with one of our kids who was viewing it for the first time (and was predictably an instant fan), and I was impressed by what I thought were similarities between the “Expert” character played by the late English actor Charles Gray and the European-raised Gilbert Proesch, who is one half of the two-man art phenomenon Gilbert and George. I felt there was such a similarity that I wondered if the artist had done an acting role, and they were the same person, but at the same time I knew that one has a very asymmetric face and the other didn’t. I still felt that there is some similarity, but wasn’t sure exactly what or how. Now that I’ve been able to Google up some images of the faces of both men, it is clear that their faces in still photography look quite different, and it is also obvious that although the artist has lived in England for a long time, he retains an exotic European accent that is quite different to the English actor’s. So why do I still feel that there is some similarity? Clearly it isn’t face or accent matching. Perhaps their voices are similar in pitch or something, but I think what I’ve been doing is recognition of personas or personalities or characters. The characters portrayed by Gray and Proesch (Gilbert and George are an act, though probably close to reality) are similar in many ways. They are English gents wearing suits with gray hair of a similar style, of a similar age (in the films I’ve viewed of each), with personalities that are male, quite handsome, well-spoken, urbane, controlled and focused, culturally English, intellectual, interesting and authoritative in some way, but at the same time both operating within the shock-comedy-art genre (Gilbert and George’s interviews are often very funny and their art could be interpreted as shock-comedy-art). I think it is possible that their body language and/or voices might be quite similar, which might not be captured in still images.

What does this mean? Why does this matter? I think it shows that there’s much more to being a super-recognizer (as I apparently am according to numerous test results) than merely memorizing the shapes and contours of mental images of faces. I think the thing that gives me “the edge” in face recognition is a great memory for personality or character, which means being able to automatically encode in my brain the whole package of what makes a person; face, hair, body, culture, gender, personality, level of intellect, vocabulary, race, etc. I’m certain that this ability in memorization of the whole person is related the the fact that I’m a synaesthete with a hyper-connected brain, which may well mean that I’m better than others at memorizing a concept of one particular person consisting of a large number of traits of that person, including visual, conceptual and auditory information (face, personality, voice etc) and each of those traits things that they might have in common with any number of other people I’ve seen and memorized. As you should be able to see (in your mind’s eye), this type of memorization is like a huge and complex network of associations. I suspect that a hyper-connected brain might be good at handling this type of categorical thinking about disparate characteristics. I also think this type of personality recognition is related to the fact that I’m not only a synesthete but a personifying synaesthete. Ever since childhood I’ve automatically thought of numbers and letters as having human attributes such as ages and genders and personalities. This is called ordinal-linguistic personification, and it is a type of synaesthesia. I guess my brain has always been very keen to memorize personalities, even in things that aren’t actually people. If you want to fully understand superiority in face recognition, you will need to look at synaesthesia and personification. That is my tip to researchers and that is also MY idea.