Tag Archives: Personality

Year ends minus a friend

Before 2019 ends, I think it is worth putting on record that this was the year that I lost a good friend, an elderly lady I’d known for many years. Despite belonging to different generations and classes, and despite many ups and downs and misunderstandings and difficulties, we had time for each other, we appreciated each other’s finer qualities, we tolerated each other’s considerable flaws and we were genuinely hoping for all the best things for each other. I can’t say I’ve had many friendships like that, even though I’ve met many acquaintances who, at face value, have many more things in common with myself. Perhaps any kind of friendship is possible when people share a love of gardening and the natural world?

At my friend’s funeral I never expected to hear a description of a rare memory ability, even though my friend had plainly and clearly told me a year earlier that she was able to remember her own life in detail over long periods of time. Was it a memory of every day of her life, or was it flashbacks, or was it an ability to recall the events of any given date in her past? I’m unfortunately quite vague at recalling conversations, but I know at the time I thought my friend’s memory sounded like a case of “highly superior autobiographical memory” or HSAM, previously known as hyperthymestic syndrome. In reply I told my friend that it was the weirdest coincidence that I had read the first neuroscience/psychology journal paper describing this type of ability, and then realised that the person who was the case study was also a time-sequence synaesthete and this was probably an aspect of her memory superiority, and I then informed a leading synaesthesia researcher about this apparent link between synaesthesia and HSAM, and as a result I got a mention in a paper that she wrote and was published exploring this association. And I also have a freakishly good memory ability, mine an extreme memory for faces. After my friend and I both said our bit about our unusual memories, it felt like we were both sitting there, each thinking our friend must be some kind of show-off bullshitter. Me a super-recognizer and my friend a HSAM? What was the chance that such a pair would meet, let alone become friends? It seemed too weird to believe. The topic of conversation changed.

I should never have doubted my friend. At her funeral a eulogy by a third party confirmed my late friend’s claim to an uncanny memory of  life’s events. The first case of HSAM that was described by researchers complained that her memory of past events was too often a re-experiencing of painful experiences, while other (male) cases that came to light later didn’t experience their exceptional memory as a burden. I think my late friend, a widow, was at times vividly haunted by memories of the past. I’m convinced that she had the ability to recall conversations verbatim. Have you ever had an annoyed octogenerian correct your recollection of a past visit by repeating a conversation from weeks ago, word-for-word? I have. I’ll never be able to confirm it now, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if hyperphantasia is a psychological trait that we had in common. One day I’ll find the time to do a test for that.

I know I will never meet another person like my late friend. I also know that she will have been ticked-off that she left this world leaving this world’s problems unresolved. Regardless of her aging and often broken bones, chronic health issues and a sensitivity to life’s mundane disappointments, she was always ready to get up and go out again, and meet new vague, indecisive and forgetful people. I’ll always miss her, but she’s still very much a part of my life.

Doppelganger doco on Nine tonight

https://www.yourtv.com.au/program/finding-my-twin-stranger/358709/

My thoughts after viewing:

Not the most entertaining or interesting documentary that I’ve seen.

The pairs of “doppelgangers” featured on the show highlight the difference between popular or conventional notions of a doppelganger and the concept as I use it, being a super-recognizer. I didn’t find it clear how the pairs of supposedly same-looking people had been discovered, but I think some pairs discovered each other by accident by living in the same town or doing stand-up comedy  in the same festival and being mistaken for the other, while other pairs used some online face recognition tool to identify their “double” in another part of the world. In the matching methods, therefore, some pairs were matched by people looking at live, dynamic people, while other matches were made by technology looking at still images of faces. Not surprisingly, one pair who were matched with face shots and technology were of very different heights in person and not much of a match for skin colour or general facial resemblance.

All of the pairs on the show were matched in genders, age, skin colour, hair colour, hair texture and even non-biological aspects of appearance such the use of glasses to see with and even similar style of glasses worn. Throughout the show the scientist studying the pairs, using computer technology to compare static images or 3D computer models of the pairs faces, compared the similarity scores given for the matches to those typically found in identical twins, so the unspoken concept of the doppelganger used in the show was for the pairs to look so similar as to be identical, but none of the pairs had similarity scores in the same range as identical twins, overall. As soon as our daughter and I started watching the show we could pick that none were identical twins; there were always differences in faces that could be spotted in an instant that wouldn’t be there in identical twins. This concept of a twin-like doppelganger is entirely different to the kind of uncanny similarity that I occassionally spot between people, which is much more like a family or genetic similarity, as in close relatives or people who have the same genetic disorder that alterns appearance, but often neither of these explaantions are obvious. The doppelganger phenomenon that I spot can go across ages, genders, races and skin tones, but often the personalities are uncannily similar, in the same way that their faces are similar. My concept of “doppelganger” violates social norms, in that it suggests that there are more fundamental similarities between people than sharing the same gender or race or age, which many people might find odd or insulting.

The resemblance that I sometimes see between apparent strangers is in multiple aspects of the face that are remarkably similar in shape and appearance, which can include the hairline, the texture of the hair, beard-borderline pattern, the pattern of the teeth and jaw width, along with things that can’t be recorded in a static photograph, such as the way a person speaks, pronounces particular phonemes in a way that is independent of an accent, the rhythm and speed of the way they speak, unique or distinctive facial expressions and the context in which they are made, which might seen incongruous, and similar gestures or postures, such as the angle at which the head is usually held, and the overall personality. My concept of “doppelgangers” goes way beyond simple visual matching of two similar but non-identical images of faces, which is a task that even a machine could be designed to do. My concept of the doppelganger takes in the whole package of sound, speech, movement and facial appearance, and none of those elements alone are interesting or remarkable, because it is the matching of the same convergence of these types of characteristics in two different people that I notice. I believe this is a reflection of a biological similarity between people, and I think there was a hint of a similar sense of biological similarity at work in the documentary. Part-way through the doco pairs were shown givng saliva samples so that they could be compared for genetic similarities, in a similar process to the popular geneological services that aim to identify distant relatives by DNA. While one pair had remarkably similar racial profiles, it appears that only one (other) pair turned out to be actually related, and they were the pair that I felt I’d have the most trouble mixing up if I met them both, because of their similar overall movement style, voices and personalities and appearance. They were both stand-up comedians, which must count as a peronality similarity. This pair nevertheless did not receive a high score from the computer for facial similarity, but tellingly, they did receive the highest similarity score when rated by a crowd of people. Sadly, the fact that human rating managed to identify an objectively real genetic similarity in one of the pairs appeared to be ignored, in the documentary while the similarity ratings of static images by a computer algorithm was spoken of as an objective fact. Once again, it appears that the common infatuation with and awe of technology is a barrier to expanding scientific knowedge of identfying other people.

Alexander Todorov’s new book on Radio National

Face value: Neuroscience shows how first impressions work
RN By Sam Baran for All In The Mind
Updated 23 Jul 2017, 8:04am

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-23/face-value-neuroscience-shows-how-first-impressions-work/8693308

 

Can’t stop spotting celebrity doppelgangers

A man’s mouth decorated with black lippy, those sad-looking eyes that seem to be melting down the side of a long face with minimal cheekbones, on a man with a tall, powerful build and a deep voice that is simply stunning.

 

Why is this look so familiar?

 

Why?

 

Oh yes, that’s why!

Interesting that Fred Gwynne was also a great slab of a man with a deep voice that he shared with us in song, and had a great love of theatricality, a sense of humour, and a willingness to dress like a horrific freak for a job. Similar faces often go with similar lives and similar personalities. Are these similarities more than skin-deep?

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fred_Gwynne&oldid=775146731

There’s nothing random about my number colours

I must have had an understanding of basic number facts and arithmetic when my colours for numbers became set, because there are colourful and logical patterns in the colours of digits, and this logic is also interwoven with ordinal-linguistic personification*. I’ve only just realised how formal the “logic” of my grapheme – colour synaesthesia actually is, as I’m studying and trying to use number colours as a simple mnemonic. I think synaesthesia researchers would agree that this brain-based mental phenomenon of coloured letters and numbers forms in the early years of schooling when kids first learn reading and basic maths.

The even numbers up to 10 are all colours that are or are made up from one particular “warm” colour, because even numbers have warm personalities (obviously!) because they are made up of pairs (every element inside an even number has a friend for company). I can’t stand the colours of most even numbers as they remind me of bodily waste and bodily fluids. In contrast, the odd numbers from 3 to 9 are all colours that are or are made up from another particular colour, this colour being a “cold” colour. The odd numbers have somewhat chill colours because of their inherently cool (but sometimes entertaining or dynamic) personalities, because within them there are units that have no pair, that is, they contain “loner” units. Of course, the greatest “loner unit” is the number 1, and he is so special that his colour follows a special rule for all concepts that are at the beginning of learned sequences (the special firsts). Maybe you can guess what their colour is. I’m sure you can guess the colour (or non-colour) of the digit 0. I’m not sure if there’s some rule or it was just a happy accident that the digits that are multiples of three look like a spectrum of colours with the cold colour added in greater quantity with more threes added. 3, 6 and 9 really do look like they belong in a sequence by their colours alone. Their colours are the same as the vibrant colours of the plumage of a native WA bird that I was fascinated with as a young child. I find these colours truly inspiring.

Just to complicate things, I also think Cuisinaire rods, which I used to learn maths many years ago in early primary school, have colour-digit associations that have some similarities with my number colours. No synaesthete can ever know for sure how their colours for graphemes were set in the wiring of our brains, but I suspect that I gave these colour-digit associations a lot of thought when I was a much younger student than I am now.

* a type of synaesthesia in which concepts that are learned in set sequences are involuntarily personified in a way that is very stable over time, for example, the letter D is a man with a gentle but authoritative personality

Openness personality trait linked to interesting variant of visual perception

I feel as though they are talking about me (and no that isn’t paranoia).

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092656617300338

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2127804-creative-people-physically-see-and-process-the-world-differently/

https://theconversation.com/people-with-creative-personalities-really-do-see-the-world-differently-77083

 

Another pair of famous doppelgangers

Former Foreign Minister of Australia Gareth Evans and the stodgy male character in those annoying Kleenheat ads.

But I find the latter much more likeable.

Ever noticed how the faces of couples often look a lot alike?

I notice it all the time, and perhaps this has something to do with being a super-recognizer. It seems to be especially common among couples that include a murderer or a politician. You should consider assortative mating or narcissism before you assume incest.

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/1/4/400.short

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/147470490400200123

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886905003624

 

Faces get all the attention but we are misled by them?

Eagerly anticipating this counter-intuitive book:

Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions
Alexander Todorov
Hardcover | May 2017

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10923.html

 

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