Our Brains Can Recognize Powerful People At Lightning Speed

2 June 2023

Associate Professor Alan Pegna from UQ's School of Psychology featured in an article by IFLScience discussing how our brains can quickly identify who holds the most power in social structures.

Dr Pegna's research demonstrates how our brains recognize dominant individuals with astounding speed.

“We measured electrical activity in the brain while participants played a game alongside other individuals who were either a lot better or a lot worse than them, or so they thought,” Dr Pegna said.

“The brain processed ‘better’ players within two-tenths of a second after seeing their faces.”

What the players didn’t know was that their own score was being randomly designated as a “win” half the time, and a “loss” the rest of the time, so they would always end up in the middle of the pack. After 10 rounds, they were presented with their own average score, plus the scores and photographs of their four competitors – but there was another catch.

Read the article