by Yoli, Marmalade Branch
Are you really good at remembering faces? If so, you may be counted among the 1% of the population who are considered super-recognizers! This is an innate ability that is currently being studied by University of New South Wales. You can find out if you are a super-recognizer by taking the UNSW Face Test. The test is not mobile compatible. You will need to complete the test on a desktop or a laptop computer.
Fair warning, the UNSW test is really difficult. I took the test and I scored 80.83%, which places me in the top 1% of participants. The average score on this test is 58.57% I did not expect to score so well on this test, and wondered if it was a fluke.
If you are like me, you may start out at the beginning of the test enjoying the feeling of easily being able to differentiate between the faces. You may even feel a sense of accomplishment and it feels like fun. However, as the test progressed, I felt my brain struggling. It was mentally exhausting.
I began to guess more and more of the answers. Imagine if you were given a 10 piece puzzle, and it suddenly multiplied into a 10,000 piece puzzle. Or imagine if you were given a math problem that looked really simple, but it turned out to be unsolvable. Or maybe that is not a good analogy, because math is not my strong suit, and so most math problems are difficult for me. And yet, looking at the faces felt like some kind of tortuous mental geometry-- so maybe, just maybe, math is the best analogy.
After this experience, I decided being a super-recognizer is exhausting, and I could never make a career out of it.
Please enjoy this article from the Washington Post: “They never forget a face. Research delves into how ‘super-recognizers’ can do this.” I found this science article highly enjoyable to read. I want to know more about how the science of super-recognizers might be applied to real world situations and problems, and why exactly is it being studied. The concept of super-recognizers seems like science-fiction, but it’s real. And also totally weird and unusual. I’m now really really curious about it, so I’ll probably keep participating in these studies with UNSW if I keep scoring well and do not burn out.
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