Women are better at remembering faces than men, according to a new study, partly because they spend more time studying facial features without being aware of it.
Canadian researchers used eye-tracking technology to monitor where study participants looked — such as the eyes, nose or mouth — when they were shown a series of different faces on a computer screen. Each face was given a name that the researchers asked participants to remember.
“We discovered that women look more at new faces than men do, which allows them to create a richer and more superior memory,” study co-author Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in the kinesiology department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said in a university news release.
Women’s heightened attention to facial features occurs on a subconscious level, according to the study, which was published May 21 in the journalPsychological Science.
The findings may improve understanding of why some people are better at remembering faces and also suggest that people can improve their memory by changing the way they scan with their eyes.
“The results open the possibility that changing our eye movement pattern may lead to better memory,” study co-author David Shore, a psychology professor at McMaster, said in the news release. “Increased scanning may prove to be a simple strategy to improve face memory in the general population, especially for individuals with memory impairment, such as older adults.”
Source: McMaster University, news release, June 4, 2013 via HealthDay