How can you guarantee that your photos will make your online dating profile stand out? As always, science is the ultimate wingman. In addition to the subjective factors that can lead us to better remember someone (“I love guys with handlebar mustaches,” “You look exactly like my cousin Theresa,” “That really is the same as Mike Tyson’s face tattoo”), researchers at MIT have discovered that there’s something universal about “memorability.” Simply put, certain faces stick in our brains better than others.
By subtly modifying faces (preserving age, attractiveness and emotion) with a “memory facelift” to make them more or less forgettable, scientists found that participants either forgot or remembered them with 74 percent accuracy. But unfortunately for you, me, and our tragically underused Photoshop skills, there’s no single property of a face that, when manipulated, reliably increases its memorability. MIT’s Aude Oliva identifies kindness, trustworthiness, distinctness and familiarity as qualities that can make a face unforgettable, so, good luck with that.
Someone please release a memory facelift smartphone app as soon as possible. Failing that, I’d like a Trustworthiness filter to apply to all my Instagram selfies.