Gender and hometown population density interact to predict face recognition ability

Mackenzie A. Sunday, Parth A. Patel, Michael D. Dodd, Isabel Gauthier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Several studies have found that individuals from small hometowns show diminished face recognition ability as compared with individuals from larger hometowns. We further this line of research by relating six measures of face recognition ability to hometown density. We predicted that the three face recognition ability measures which included a learning component would relate to hometown density whereas the three measures which did not include such a learning component would not. Instead, we found that none of the six measures related to hometown density. Interestingly, we found interactions between gender and hometown population density on many of these measures and on a general index of face recognition, with females from small hometowns outperforming males from small hometowns but no such differences in the large hometown group. In a follow-up re-analysis of a previous study, we found a similar interaction in one of two face recognition ability measures. Together, these results reveal a pattern of gender differences modulated by hometown population density. If indeed experience with faces in one's hometown influences face recognition ability, understanding these effects may require more than a quantification of the environment. Men and women growing up in the same environment likely have different experiences, which likely modulates effects on visual abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalVision research
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Experience
  • Face recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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