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Pretty Less Memorable Than Ugly in Facial Recognition

Update Date: Feb 06, 2014 04:30 PM EST

Ugly faces are more memorable than pretty ones, a new study suggests.

Scientists found that attractiveness can actually hinder the recognition of faces. However, researchers at the University of Jena in Germany noted that this does not apply to attractive face with distinctive features.

The latest study revealed that participants were significantly more likely to remember photographs of unattractive faces than those of attractive faces. However, participants found beautiful faces with distinctive features more memorable than beautiful faces without distinctive features.

"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," Dr. Holger Wiese of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena said in a news release.

Participants were shown photos of faces. Half of the faces were considered as being more attractive, and the other half as less attractive. Participants had a few second to memorize the faces. Afterwards, they were shown the faces and had to decide if they recognized them.

"Until now we assumed that it was generally easier to memorize faces, which are being perceived as attractive - just because we prefer looking at beautiful faces," Wiese said.

Researchers said that EEG-recordings during memory tests suggest that attractive faces are distorted by emotional influences that disrupt the recognition at a later time.

The findings are published in the journal Neuropsychologia.

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