Advertisement
Tech by VICE

The Only Faces Men Recognize Better Than Women Are Transformers

“Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing.” - Optimus Prime

by Samantha Cole
Nov 19 2016, 2:00pm

Image: inspiwrit/Flickr

If you know the difference between the steely-eyed expression on Optimus Prime's robot-face, and the vaguely innocent wide-eyed look of Bumblebee, you likely grew up with them, and since Transformers are traditionally toys for boys, you're likely male.

In most cases, women are better at recognizing faces, but when it comes to Transformer faces, it seems that childhood experience has finally given men the edge in in facial recognition.

Men tend to be better than women at this highly useful and totally not-absurd skill, according to a new study from Vanderbilt University published in Vision Research, which tested people's ability to recognize the faces of familiar childhood toys.

"This is the first category of faces where men do better than women," lead researcher Isabel Gauthier said. All previous research has shown that women are better than men at facial recognition in general, or that there isn't a difference between genders in how they recognize faces.

The researchers conducted the experiment with Barbie dolls and Transformer because they have distinguishable facial features. The researchers gave participants six images to study, and then presented them with a mix of those images and new, random images of other faces they hadn't seen yet. Subjects were then asked to pick out the faces they previously studied. The researchers used male and female Barbie dolls and Transformer faces, as well as a control group of automobile photos.

At first, they thought that men were better at recognizing Transformers because they treated the Transformers as objects, rather than faces. But attributing their edge to this turned out to be too simplistic. Recognizing cars or toys didn't necessarily mean you would be better at recognizing different faces, but the ability to recognize the faces you grew up with—even if they are robots in disguise—carries throughout adulthood.