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Men are red, women are green, Brown researcher finds
Date:12/8/2008

Michael J. Tarr, a Brown University scientist, and graduate student Adrian Nestor have discovered this color difference in an analysis of dozens of faces. They determined that men tend to have more reddish skin and greenish skin is more common for women.

The finding has important implications in cognitive science research, such as the study of face perception. But the information also has a number of potential industry or consumer applications in areas such as facial recognition technology, advertising, and studies of how and why women apply makeup.

"Color information is very robust and useful for telling a man from a woman," said Tarr, the Fox Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and professor of cognitive and linguistic sciences at Brown. "It's a demonstration that color can be useful in visual object recognition."

Tarr said the idea that color may help us to identify objects better has been controversial. But, he said, his and related findings show that color can nonetheless provide useful information.

Tarr and Nestor's research is reported in the journal Psychological Science. The paper will be published online Dec. 8 and in print a few weeks later.

To conduct the study, Tarr needed plenty of faces. His lab analyzed about 200 images of Caucasian male and female faces (100 of each gender) compiled in a data bank at the Max Planck Institute in Tbingen, Germany, photographed using a 3-D scanner under the same lighting conditions and with no makeup. He then used a MatLab program to analyze the amount of red and green pigment in the faces.

Additionally, Tarr and his lab relied on a large number of other faces photographed under similar controlled conditions. (Tarr has made them available on his web site, www.tarrlab.org.)

What he found: Men proved to have more red in their faces and women have more green, contrary to prior assumptions.

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Contact: Mark Hollmer
Mark_Hollmer@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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