Earlier this week, Vanderbilt University published an article summarizing the results of a research project undertaken recently. The researchers were studying facial recognition, specifically the ability of people to recognize someone else's face. Challenging the common conclusion that capability in this is based on gender, the researchers brought in some special tools: Transformers. The essential theory being that the childhood associations of facial feature and structure - such as one might get from their toys - inform processing in later life. Find out more below!
The faces of Transformers were joined in the study by Barbie faces, seemingly chosen as distinct ubiquitous childhood toys. While the results in individual categories are roughly equivalent, with male study participants doing a bit better with Transformers than Barbies, and female participants scoring a little higher on Barbies than Transformers, the result itself is meaningful. The article explains it's the first time a facial recognition study has shown males outperforming females on this type of recognition experiment. The study also included images of cars, an area that males typically perform better in than female subjects.
Combined with a statistically equal performance in recognizing real human faces, the study appears to support that either gender is equally capable of accurately recognizing faces. One theory regarding the better than typical result with Transformer faces is that the male subjects may identify them more as objects in the same way they register something like the cars also in the study. But the underpinning remains that what we learn to understand as a face when we're children remains a large factor in how we perceive faces as adults.
Of course for us longtime fans that probably comes as no surprise when we can, on average, clearly distinguish between the likes of Optimus Prime, Soundwave, Tailgate, Tarantulas, or any other number of Transformers who lack most of the typical human facial features. To us, faces are just... more than meets the eye.
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