September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
Face Processing Abilities Relate to Career Choice
Author Affiliations
  • Emily Strong
    Psychology, Wellesley College
  • Richard Russell
    Psychology, Gettysburg College
  • Laura Germine
    Psychology, Harvard University
  • Jeremy Wilmer
    Psychology, Wellesley College
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 621. doi:
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      Emily Strong, Richard Russell, Laura Germine, Jeremy Wilmer; Face Processing Abilities Relate to Career Choice. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):621.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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A person's ability to process faces could potentially impact the quality of their social interactions and affect their success in careers that require high levels of social interaction. Indeed, face recognition ability varies greatly in the normal population, largely due to genetic factors (Wilmer et al., 2010), and facial emotion recognition ability has also been shown to vary widely (Baron-Cohen et al., 2001). However, the everyday correlates of individual differences in face processing abilities remain largely unstudied. Here, we investigated the relationship between career choice and an individual's ability to remember faces (via the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT), Duchaine & Nakayama, 2007) and label facial expressions (via the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), Baron-Cohen et al., 2001). Through our website, 5396 participants completed the CFMT, the RMET, and a questionnaire about their careers. There was significant variation between careers on both the CFMT (F = 3.04, p < .001) and the RME (F = 2.02, p < .02). Individuals with careers in visual arts/graphic design and law performed significantly better than average on both tests, while those with careers in computers/IT performed significantly worse than average on the CFMT, but within the normal range on the RMET. A particularly significant effect was found for individuals with careers in visual arts/graphic design, who performed over a third of a standard deviation better than average on the CFMT (d = .35, t = 3.6, p < .001). These results document a clear relationship between face processing abilities and choice of career.


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