Are women better at remembering the appearance of others?

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Women recall the appearance of others better than men. The goal of the present research was to shed light on the explanations and boundary conditions of this gender difference. In three studies (592 participants), the authors tested potential mediators and moderators of the gender difference. Results corroborated the robustness of the gender difference. General task motivation, general memory ability, importance of appearance, appearance knowledge, attention paid to target, gazing at target, and communal or agentic orientation could not explain why women were better at recalling others’ appearance than men were. Except for importance of appearance and appearance knowledge, which both decreased the magnitude of the gender difference, general task motivation, attention paid to target, length of exposure to target, delay in responding, cognitive load, and response format (verbal vs. nonverbal) had no effect on the gender difference. Results are discussed in relation to gender differences found in the nonverbal sensitivity literature.

Source: “Women’s Advantage at Remembering Others’ Appearance: A Systematic Look at the Why and When of a Gender Difference” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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