Sex differences in face recognition--women's faces make the difference

Brain Cogn. 2002 Oct;50(1):121-8. doi: 10.1016/s0278-2626(02)00016-7.


Sex differences favoring women have been found in face recognition tasks as well as in verbal episodic memory tasks. Women's higher face recognition performance was hypothesized to be related to either their higher verbal ability or to their superiority in recognizing female faces, rather than faces in general. Results showed that whereas there were no differences between men and women in the recognition of male faces, or in verbal ability, women performed at a higher level than men in the recognition of female faces. Verbal ability did not influence women's face recognition performance. Potential explanations for this pattern of data, such as sex differences in interest and prior knowledge, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Visual Perception