Have you ever wondered how the people you’re surrounded with, both now and growing up, influence your reactions to other people? How simply being around them has shaped your worldview? These are some things we are investigating in our study ‘Let’s face it; we’re seeing things differently’.
We are investigating questions like the ones above, using face adaptation. Face adaptation occurs when a person gets used to the face they are perceiving. When you have gotten used to the characteristics of the face you are perceiving, you are less sensitive to these features. When you then see a different face with slightly different features, these small differences seem very large. For example, imagine that you have been perceiving a face with light skin. Then you are shown a face with a slightly darker skin. This slight change in skin tone now seems very large, since you have become used to the light skin tone.
This phenomenon can be observed on a day-to-day basis as well. For instance, we can compare large cities with lots of diversity to small villages where most people look the same. The types of faces people are adapted to will likely differ a lot between these two locations. If we look at it this way, face adaptation may even play a role in the difference between the open-minded worldview typical of large cities and the more closed-minded worldview typical of small villages.
Of course, this is all still speculation. We will need much more research on the topic of face adaptation and how it may affect stereotypes in many ways. We hope that our study will inspire many researchers to investigate and learn about this interesting phenomenon.
By F. Barlet, A. Pejšková, P. Svobodová , M. Waldus, A. Zhao