You see a lot of people in the crowd – but who do you notice? And why did you pick out one face and not the other?

In a study published in the medical journal “Nature Human Behavior” by Professor Ran Hassin, a member of the psychology department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (HUJI) concluded that dominant and threatening traits are what your brain will register first in such a situation.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Prof. Ran Hassin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem:

"We wanted to know what are the things that you can vs. can’t do unconsciously. And once we map that – maybe we can start tapping one of the last mysteries of cognitive sciences which is – why do we have the consciousness that we have? What does it do for us?"

174 people participated in a set of experiments. They sat in front of computers and were given 300 sets of rapidly-changing images. Under these geometrical shapes were varying images of human faces. When a participant recognized a human face – they were asked to press a key on the keyboard in front of them.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Yaniv Abir, Hebrew University of Jerusalem:

“Faces that have wider jaws, more protruding eyebrows, bigger faces, wider faces with stronger facial features,We can tell very quickly – who is dominant or threatening face and who has a more amenable and friendly one.”

it is clear that different settings lead our unconscious mind to bring forward different types of faces.

the experiment is basically an attempt to map the algorithms within the human mind.

What we know for now is how we prioritize faces in a crowd. One step closer to understanding how our intricate mind works.

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