You’re Not Forgettable, Everyone Is Just Going Face Blind
It’s always insulting when someone you’ve already met introduces themselves again, but it most likely isn’t a sign of how memorable (or not) you are. It’s a result of face blindness, a neurological condition that more people suffer from than experts previously thought.
Face blindness, also known as prosopagnosia, is often caused by a brain injury or genetic abnormality and was believed to only affect about 2 to 2.5 percent of the world’s populace. However, a new study from Harvard Medical School indicates that those numbers may be higher — specifically, about one out of every 33 people meet the criteria for face blindness, or well over 10 million Americans, which can add up to a lot of people asking, “And you are…?”
The data surveyed 3,341 individuals, asking them if they ever experience difficulties recognizing people in their everyday lives. The researchers then tested these responses by showing participants a series of highly recognizable faces. The results revealed that cases of major prosopagnosia were relatively rare, but that milder forms of face blindness were relatively common.
“Expanding the diagnosis is important because knowing that you have real objective evidence of prosopagnosia, even a mild form, can help you take steps to reduce its negative impacts on daily life, such as telling consequential coworkers, or seeking treatment,” Joseph DeGutis, lead author of the study, said in a press release. For instance, those with milder forms of face blindness may benefit from “cognitive training to enhance perceptual abilities or training aimed directly at improving face associations,” DeGutis explained.
As for anyone who has been snubbed by someone they already know, the findings are a good reminder to not take their mild face blindness personally. Better yet, there’s no reason to worry so much about your appearance anymore since so many people aren’t going to remember it anyway.