People tend to remember the faces of bad people more than those of nice people, Time magazine reported on Tuesday, citing a recent study.
"Having a bad reputation may not be desirable, but it does make you more likely to be seen -- literally," the magazine said. "A new study finds that, all other things being equal, people are more likely to pay attention to faces that have been associated with negative gossip than those with neutral or positive associations."
The study by a team of psychologists at Northwestern University explains that the brain remembers wrongdoers because it prioritizes information on potential dangers as a survival mechanism.
"You're more likely to survive if you mistakenly respond to a stick as though it were a snake than if you make the opposite error," Time wrote.
To test their hypothesis, the researchers showed pictures of several faces to 61 people and described them in good or bad terms. Later, they were shown the same pictures side-by-side with pictures of neutral objects, such as a house. It was found that the participants tended to focus longer on a person's picture if they had been described negatively, like as a liar or a cheater.