Speaker: David Perrett, Perception Lab, University of St Andrews, UK
Title: In Your Face
Abstract:The aim of this talk is to answer the following questions: Can we detect a persons’ health from a facial image? Can we human improve face recognition? Can we define facial cues to personality?
The methods employed involve averaging of many facial images to extract the common features possessed by one group of people (young vs old, healthy vs sick). Once the common features are identified, we test whether humans can detect these features (i.e. can they recognise whether a person is sick or healthy just by looking at the face and using the relevant cues). The shape and colour of facial features can be exaggerated to determine whether this helps recognition of identity, or facial traits such as health. Much of the work focuses on skin pigments: particularly oxygenated blood and red-yellow carotenoid plant pigments that we consume in dietary fruit and vegetables and which impart a golden colour in the skin. These pigments may signal general health status (diet quality, aerobic fitness, stress, sleep, body fat levels). Work on apparent personality involves subtle cues from expression, and head posture. I will discuss facial characteristics that observers think are trustworthy and those that make people look like effective leaders in times of peace and conflict. The applications of the research lie in health diagnosis, overcoming visual impairment and in designing media displays that we trust.