Research into the characteristics that predict the memorability of face photographs traditionally emphasize relationships with typicality, familiarity, and memorability ratings. More recent work suggests that ratings of social traits, such as attractiveness, intelligence, and responsibility, predict the memorability of face photographs independently of typicality, familiarity, and memorability ratings. The factor structure underlying these traits is unclear, however, as is how these factors relate to the actual memorability of face photographs. To investigate these issues, we (1) assessed the memorability of face photographs using an old-new memory test, (2) had the faces rated for a diverse range of social traits often considered in social perception research (e.g., trustworthiness, attractiveness, dominance, sociability), and (3) had the faces rated for traits typically emphasized in traditional work on the memorability of face photographs (e.g., typicality, familiarity, memorability). Principle component analysis of the face ratings produced three orthogonal factors that were highly correlated with trustworthiness, dominance, and memorability ratings, respectively. Importantly, each of these orthogonal factors also predicted the actual memorability of face photographs. Collectively, these results suggest that the rated memorability of faces can be isolated from social judgments of faces and clarify the factor structure of traits predicting the memorability of face photographs.
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