21 votes

My Life With Face Blindness

16 comments

  1. [13]
    KapteinB
    Link
    There's a link in the article to Cambridge Face Memory Test. I've always struggled with faces. But then again; I struggle with remembering things in general, and also suck at memory games like...

    There's a link in the article to Cambridge Face Memory Test. I've always struggled with faces. But then again; I struggle with remembering things in general, and also suck at memory games like Concentration and Kim's Game, so me failing the face test doesn't necessarily mean anything.

    9 votes
    1. [6]
      imperialismus
      Link Parent
      Fascinating. I scored 72%, which is below average but well above what they consider suggestive of face blindness. Although to be fair, I feel like some of the last questions, with faces so heavily...

      Fascinating. I scored 72%, which is below average but well above what they consider suggestive of face blindness. Although to be fair, I feel like some of the last questions, with faces so heavily overlaid by static that you can barely make out the silhouette, were pure guesswork. I tried to go with my gut.

      I know there's a strong correlation between face blindness and autism spectrum disorders. I was diagnosed with Asperger's as a child; I never felt particularly at home with that. Since then, various psychologists and psychiatrists have given me several other diagnoses. I suppose my complicated issues are not easily put in a diagnostic box. And I am not the same person now, nearing 30, as I was when I was ten or eleven. But I acknowledge that I might sit somewhere on the edge of that spectrum. I'm not pathologically bad at remembering people, but I'm not great at it. I live in a small town, and often run into awkward situations where I'm expected to know who this or that person is, but I simply can't remember them. It doesn't get easier when it's explained that, oh, it's so-and-so's son, or she used to work in that little shop that used to be where that café is now. I can't picture their faces. But at least I'm fairly certain I'm not pathologically face blind.

      I do know I would be an awful witness if I ever happened to be close to a serious crime or accident. I feel like I'd be the sort of person who could give you the exact number of shots fired but couldn't tell you if the shooter was tall, short or average height.

      Interestingly, it seems there exists a sort of polar opposite to face blindness: the super recognizer, whose ability to memorize faces is well above average. In some cases, outperforming computerized face recognition.

      7 votes
      1. [4]
        Thrabalen
        Link Parent
        I got a 68%, and I'm positive the static images brought me way down. I would love to see a phase-by-phase breakdown.

        I got a 68%, and I'm positive the static images brought me way down. I would love to see a phase-by-phase breakdown.

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          xstresedg
          Link Parent
          I scored 90%. I may have missed one or two prior to the static images, but I feel like I only had a 50% rating on the staticy ones. Some were obvious to me when staticed, but others were guesses.

          I scored 90%. I may have missed one or two prior to the static images, but I feel like I only had a 50% rating on the staticy ones. Some were obvious to me when staticed, but others were guesses.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            Thrabalen
            Link Parent
            I feel like if I had been able to see the faces in three dimensions instead of two, the static ones wouldn't have been as difficult.

            I feel like if I had been able to see the faces in three dimensions instead of two, the static ones wouldn't have been as difficult.

            3 votes
      2. KapteinB
        Link Parent
        I guess that's the part of the test that separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to facial recognition. Personally I think I aced the first part of the test, but everything after that was...

        I feel like some of the last questions, with faces so heavily overlaid by static that you can barely make out the silhouette, were pure guesswork.

        I guess that's the part of the test that separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to facial recognition. Personally I think I aced the first part of the test, but everything after that was pure guesswork. I really had no idea ever if any of the three faces were among the six target faces, regardless of the level of distortion.

        I live in a small town, and often run into awkward situations where I'm expected to know who this or that person is, but I simply can't remember them.

        Oh, I definitely know that feeling. It's not quite as bad for me as for the lady who wrote the article, but I regularly chat with people who appear to know me but I have no recollection of. Just play along and be polite.

        2 votes
    2. eladnarra
      Link Parent
      Haha, oh dear. I sometimes joke that I'm a bit face blind - when my partner cuts his hair or beard, I joke that I need a day to re-calibrate. I scored 50%. Better than guessing on every question,...

      Haha, oh dear. I sometimes joke that I'm a bit face blind - when my partner cuts his hair or beard, I joke that I need a day to re-calibrate.

      I scored 50%.

      Better than guessing on every question, which I guess would have been 33%, but not great. Once I got to the 6 faces questions, even before the static, I started having trouble. Like you I'm not sure if it's face blindness or just worse-than-average short term memory (a symptom of my chronic illness that I thought was a lot better these days).

      5 votes
    3. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      This test is worthy of its own submission, IMO. It's very interesting! I scored 85%. It would actually be great if they had a different data set that I could retest with. I'm a teacher and I'm...

      This test is worthy of its own submission, IMO. It's very interesting!

      I scored 85%. It would actually be great if they had a different data set that I could retest with. I'm a teacher and I'm about to start the school year again, which means that I will have an entire crop of new faces that I need to memorize and pair with names, and quickly. I've gotten pretty good at it over the years and even turn it into a game with the students. Usually by the third or fourth day I can name every student in every class with under five errors total.

      That process is slightly different than this test as I have more distinguishing features to go by (e.g. hair, gender, ethnicity, tone of voice, personal style, where they're seated, etc.), but I'd be curious to see if I get a higher score in a week or two after having practiced my recognition skills so heavily at school.

      3 votes
    4. [4]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      I bet face blindness is frequently misdiagnosed as ADHD or autism. You may wanna look for a psychologist or psychiatrist.

      I bet face blindness is frequently misdiagnosed as ADHD or autism. You may wanna look for a psychologist or psychiatrist.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        xstresedg
        Link Parent
        I don't know if the ADHD thing is necessarily true. I have wonderful facial memory, but also have ADHD (and have had in noticeable capacity since I was a child, despite not being diagnosed. No one...

        I don't know if the ADHD thing is necessarily true. I have wonderful facial memory, but also have ADHD (and have had in noticeable capacity since I was a child, despite not being diagnosed. No one ever took me for diagnosis).

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          mrbig
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          There are lots of variation when it comes to ADHD. Memory is always an issue but it manifests itself in different ways. When I started on Ritalin I suddenly realized I didn’t really know how my...

          There are lots of variation when it comes to ADHD. Memory is always an issue but it manifests itself in different ways. When I started on Ritalin I suddenly realized I didn’t really know how my best friend’s face looked like. Its details and expressions. And we knew each other for 15 years.

          I may also be autistic, so there’s that.

          2 votes
          1. xstresedg
            Link Parent
            That's a good point. I have terrible short term memory, especially for remembering messages, thoughts, and names.

            That's a good point. I have terrible short term memory, especially for remembering messages, thoughts, and names.

            2 votes
  2. Thrabalen
    Link
    The topic of face blindness is fascinating to me, but more than that, the way the article was written was engrossing. I just fell into it and didn't look back until I had devoured it.

    The topic of face blindness is fascinating to me, but more than that, the way the article was written was engrossing. I just fell into it and didn't look back until I had devoured it.

    7 votes
  3. [2]
    Tygrak
    Link
    Great article, it's interesting how good she got at talking with strangers in part because of her face blindness. Here's a outline link, if anyone gets hit with a pay wall and can't get through....

    Great article, it's interesting how good she got at talking with strangers in part because of her face blindness.

    Here's a outline link, if anyone gets hit with a pay wall and can't get through. https://outline.com/y5ZMmT

    5 votes
    1. KapteinB
      Link Parent
      Opening the link in a private window also gets around most of these soft paywalls.

      Opening the link in a private window also gets around most of these soft paywalls.

      3 votes