It’s not just nice to put a face to a name, it’s also easy. In fact, it’s even easy to match a hairstyle to a name.
For the study, researchers recruited observers and showed them color headshots of complete strangers. Then they presented the observers with a list of names and asked them to match the people in the photo with their name, based on their appearance. The participants repeatedly “beat the odds of correctly identifying a person’s name based on their facial appearance alone.” Which means, when looking at a face and considering a group of names such as Jacob, Dan, Josef, and Nathaniel, they correctly chose “Dan” 38 percent of the time, which is way above the 25 percent chance (since there were four names) of a random guess.
So, the next time someone says you don’t look like your name, you can tell them, “actually, there’s an excellent chance that I do.”
It gets even crazier: Researchers also found that observers beat the odds of correctly guessing a person’s name even when they were allowed to see only his or her hairstyle. No, they were not showing them photos of Sia, Carrot Top, or Bruno Mars and giving them those names. These were nonfamous names and haircuts.
“We think that the process leading to our face-name matching effect is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” study author Ruth Mayo, PhD, tells Yahoo Beauty. “If other people expect from you certain things, you may eventually fulfill their expectations. These expectations are many times based on stereotypes. We already know from previous research that names have stereotypes that also entail how we think someone with a specific name should look like. Therefore, like other stereotypes, one may indeed become more and more like his/her name expectations, including appearance.”
And the fact that the participants could match a person to his or her name based on hair alone supports this theory. “It suggests that people embrace a certain hairstyle, and probably more facial features, that fit the expectations of how they should look according to their names,” Mayo adds.
This also could explain why many people feel the need to make a major hairstyle change when they want to reinvent themselves, such as after a breakup.
Now we can’t stop wondering… what name goes with our hair? Does “Jessie” say messy bun? Or does “Jennifer” say high pony? And does “DJ” say teased bangs? OK, now we’re just naming characters and their infamous hairstyles…
But the fact that your hairstyle says a lot about you can’t be denied — and we’ve been arguing for years that hair is more than just some stuff on top of your head. Now we have more of an excuse to spend tons of time on it.