An interview with Univ.-Prof. Dr. Helmut Leder

07. September 2011|Press Releases, The Brand

Dr. Helmut Leder

Dr. Helmut Leder

For the first time, the impact of eyewear on the perception of faces has been researched in a scientific and soundly-based manner. The study by the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Vienna has recently been released. It has been published in a special edition on face perception in the “Swiss Journal of Psychology” magazine.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Helmut Leder, one of the most renowned experts in the field of face and aesthetics research in the psychology of perception, conducted the study entitled “The impact of eyewear characteristics on the impression made by faces and perception of faces” with his team at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Vienna.

How do we perceive faces?
We recognise a face by analysing eyes, nose and mouth and their individual spacing. We identify details that make a face special. Beauty seems to be the exact opposite of this: The fewer special features a face has, the more beautiful it appears.

Are there studies on how eyewear impacts the perception of faces?
There is surprisingly little research on the impact of eyewear on the face. As far as we know, our study is the first systematic investigation that compares full-rim eyewear with rimless eyewear.

How is your study designed?
As a first step we wanted to find out whether eyewear conveys the familiar stereotypes. The preconception that eyewear makes a person less attractive seems less prevalent today. On the other hand, rimless eyewear in particular does make faces look more trustworthy and successful.

What is the situation with the identification of faces?
Eyewear adds something to a face. That could make it harder to identify a person. In various trials we discovered that full-rim eyewear has a bigger impact on the recognition of faces than rimless eyewear.

How does eyewear affect the beauty of a face or a person?
It turned out that rimless eyewear makes faces less distinctive. Less distinctive often just means more attractive. This effect was even stronger than with faces without eyewear. That is especially interesting.

What does one look at first in a face?
If you look at a face, you first look at the eyes, then the mouth and nose. So one question was: Does eyewear draw the attention even more to the eyes? And is there a difference between full-rim eyewear and rimless eyewear? We discovered that all eyewear drew the attention to the important eye zone, which is so important for the first impression of a person, even in the case of rimless eyewear with its much subtler effect.

You yourself wear rimless eyewear. For what reason?
Seeing seems so easy. Nevertheless it is one of the most complex processes that occur in our brains. What I appreciate about my rimless eyewear is that it leaves this process unrestricted and makes it an easy, unimpeded experience.

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