Every now and then a study comes down the pike that is so obvious as to be laughable. Here’s the latest.
A group of researchers from Harvard’s Department of Psychology have discovered that—get ready—people identify faces by gender and race. Yup, when we look at somebody we actually notice whether they are male or female, black or white. That’s the big news from their study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.
I fully understand that some research that may seem meaningless on its face (oops, no pun intended) lays a foundation for future, more profound projects, and that seemingly small findings may contribute to a broader and more useful body of knowledge. But the authors of “Multivoxel Patterns in Fusiform Face Area Differentiate Faces by Sex and Race” make no such case.
Indeed, the report’s conclusion reads, “In sum, the present experiment suggests that FFA [fusiform face area, a part of the brain that responds to faces] distinguishes faces by social categories like sex and race. In this way, the current research contributes to our emerging understanding of how the human brain perceives individuals from different social categories.”
What do you think? Might there be some deeper meaning here? Or should we all just move along and find something more intriguing?