Does your name resemble your face? Yes, say researchers who found out that owing to the cultural stereotypes that people associate with names, they can accurately match a stranger’s name to his or her face.
“We are familiar with such a process from other stereotypes, like ethnicity and gender where sometimes the stereotypical expectations of others affect who we become,” said lead author Yonat Zwebner, doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.
“For instance, people are more likely to imagine a person named Bob to have a rounder face, than a person named Tim.
“These stereotypes can, over time, affect people’s facial appearance,” Zwebner added.
Further, this might also be due to people subconsciously altering their appearance to conform to cultural norms and cues associated with their names — like changing the areas of the face, such as hairstyle.
“Facial appearance represents social expectations of how a person with a particular name should look. In this way, a social tag may influence one’s facial appearance,” explained Ruth Mayo from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
For the study, participants were shown a photograph and asked to select the given name that corresponded to the face from a list of four or five names.
The participants were significantly better — 25 to 40 per cent accurate — at matching the name to the face.
In another experiment, the researchers trained a computer, using a learning algorithm, to match names to faces. In this experiment, which included over 94,000 facial images, the computer was also 54 to 64 per cent accurate.