We look like our names: Research on face-name matching

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Does your name match your face?

Researchers at Hebrew University examined a social tag that is associated with us early in life— given names. The hypothesis is that name stereotypes can be manifested in facial appearance, producing a face-name matching effect, whereby both a social perceiver and a computer are able to accurately match a person’s name to his or her face

According to a study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a person’s facial features actually become those we associate with their particular name. Using volunteers, researchers showed each person photos of different people and asked to guess that person’s name (from a list of five).

It turned out people were able to guess the correct name far more often than they would have done by chance. The random chance for getting it right is 20 percent; study participants nailed it a full 35 percent of the time – but only if they shared a culture. Read on to find how more and the implications of this work.