Prof. Haberman to Publish Paper on “The Frozen Effect” Co-Authored with Former Student

head and shoulder image of a college professor

Jason Haberman, assistant professor of psychology, and former student Malerie McDowell ’17 have co-authored a paper to be published in a forthcoming issue of the peer-reviewed scientific  journal PLOS ONE.

The paper is titled “The Frozen Effect: Objects In Motion Are More Aesthetically Appealing Than Objects Frozen In Time.” According to Haberman, The Frozen Face Effect is the phenomenon in which a video of a face in motion is perceived as more flattering than the video’s constituent static images. In their experiment, Haberman and McDowell sought to determine if this effect is also present in bodies and objects.

Participants of the study were asked to rate a set of 25 videos of bodies and objects in motion (without visible faces) along with the 30 constituent frames of each video — that is, the exact same information in both video and static form. Without exception, bodies and objects in motion were rated as more aesthetically appealing than the identical information when viewed in static form.

“Our results reveal a deeply ingrained preference for viewing the world dynamically. The more predictable the motion, the stronger the preference,” says Haberman. “The visual system evolved in a world in which bodies move. Seeing them in static form, for example in a photograph, can be at times disconcerting. That’s why we hire professional photographers to capture the few static moments during which we actually resemble ourselves.”

McDowell graduated from Rhodes in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.