Recognition Memory for Unfamiliar Faces and the Effects of Attractiveness: Do we Remember Better Looking People?
Atkinson 2011 MA.doc (2.270Mb)
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of attractiveness on recognition memory and its component processes; recollection and familiarity for unfamiliar facial identities. A repeated measures design was administered to 45 undergraduate participants who subjectively rated 40 facial identities (study phase). This was followed by a recognition memory task (test phase) consisting of 60 identities (all 40 previously studied and 20 new). In addition to this, participants were asked to make ‘remember’ or ‘know’ (R-K) judgements for identities that they had previously recognised. Analyses were run using correct hits only. This study provides evidence that attractiveness of facial stimuli, at both ends of the spectrum, affects recognition memory in terms of accuracy and reaction times. The implications of these findings are discussed and explained in terms of differences in levels of distinctiveness and emotion arousal. R-K data show that despite the inter-dependence of ‘remember’ and ‘know’ responses, our findings appear to support the ‘dual-process’ theory of recognition, with higher proportions of remember responses being recorded for identities that lay towards either end of the attractiveness scale. As this study provides a clarified view on the effect of attractiveness on recognition memory, suggestions for further research to investigate why these effects occur, are discussed.