December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Hometown context and childhood activities predict face recognition performance
Author Affiliations
  • Spencer Andrews
  • Shruti Japee
  • Brendan Ritchie
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3717. doi:
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      Spencer Andrews, Shruti Japee, Brendan Ritchie; Hometown context and childhood activities predict face recognition performance. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3717.

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

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Experience with faces, specifically early in life, plays a major role in an adult’s facial recognition ability. Building on this idea, recent studies, using hometown size as a proxy for social exposure, have found that individuals from small hometowns have a reduced ability to recognize faces as opposed to individuals from large hometowns (Balas and Saville, 2015, 2017). Adopting this same approach, another study recently reported an additional gender effect such that females from small hometowns performed better on facial recognition tasks than did males from small hometowns (Sunday et al, 2019). While these studies reported interesting findings, they were conducted on a rather restricted sample (largely made up of only individuals from Nebraska and North Dakota) and collected little information detailing participants’ social exposure throughout childhood. In this study, using the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform, we asked 1500 subjects living in 25 different states with varying proportions of rural population densities to complete the Cambridge Face Memory Task (CFMT). Each participant reported information on their family size and the extent of their social exposure through activities in childhood. We found that neighborhood (urban, suburban, or rural) predicted performance in the opposite direction than might be expected by previous work. Specifically, individuals who grew up in rural neighborhoods on average performed better on the CFMT than those from urban or suburban neighborhoods.


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