Face recognition and hand-washing behaviour in a hazardous health scenario

Felisberti, Fatima Maria (2015) Face recognition and hand-washing behaviour in a hazardous health scenario. In: European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association Annual Conference; 29 Mar - 01 Apr 2015, Helsinki, Finland. (Unpublished)


Hand-washing is of essential importance in the battle against cross-transmission of infectious microorganisms in high-risk environments. We compared the response sensitivity, biases, and reaction time (RT) to faces linked to different hand-washing behaviours in a hypothetical hospital emergency ward: clean hands, dirty hands, or unknown hand-washing (control). The results of two experiments showed no significant differences in sensitivity, biases, or RT to clean or dirty hands, even though the sensitivity to them tended to be higher than in the control condition. The third experiment examined if the occupation of hospital staff (nurses vs porters) modulated face recognition linked to the previous hand-washing behaviours. Again, no reliable differences in sensitivity and response bias were observed. On the other hand, the RT to nurses was faster than to porters in all conditions. The absence of a clear memory advantage towards relevant hand-washing behaviours in hazardous environments points to the need to devise better strategies to remind people of the importance to observe (and remember) the hand-washing behaviour of others when exposed to hazardous health environments

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