September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Size doesn't matter. It's the quality of people's social networks that predicts individual differences in face recognition ability.
Author Affiliations
  • Laura Engfors
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia, WA, 6009, Australia
  • Romina Palermo
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia, WA, 6009, Australia
  • Linda Jeffery
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia, WA, 6009, Australia
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 937. doi:10.1167/18.10.937
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      Laura Engfors, Romina Palermo, Linda Jeffery; Size doesn't matter. It's the quality of people's social networks that predicts individual differences in face recognition ability.. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):937. doi: 10.1167/18.10.937.

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

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Abstract

Despite the social importance of face recognition, there are considerable individual differences in people's abilities. The causes of this variation are not well understood. One possible contribution to these differences is variation in people's social experience. This question has been investigated indirectly by examining whether socially interested personality traits that are expected to predict social experience (extraversion-introversion) are linked with better face recognition skills. However, evidence for an association is weak. In the current study, we revisited this question using direct, real-world measures of social experience by estimating both the quantity and quality of participants' social networks. The social networks of 200 people, aged between 18-30 years old, were assessed using measures of the overall size of their social network [the number of people the person has frequent contact with, but are not necessarily important to them (Bickart et al., 2010)] and the quality of their social network [number of enduring, supportive relationships with frequent interaction, Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire, 1981)]. Unfamiliar face recognition ability was assessed using the Cambridge Face Memory Test (Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006) and familiar face recognition ability with a famous faces task. We found that the overall size of an individual's social network was not significantly related to either unfamiliar or familiar face recognition ability. However, the quality of an individual's social network was positively related to both unfamiliar and familiar face recognition ability. Overall, these findings suggest that the most important aspect of social experience for face recognition ability is possessing many high quality social relationships. Whereas the overall number of people we have regular contact with was not related to face ability. Our results may suggest that people with richer social support networks have acquired better face recognition skills due to higher quality opportunities to individuate faces over their lifetime.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018

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