It’s almost carnival season and time for booths where you’ll pay someone to guess your age. If you are one of those guessers, pay attention to a new study. If the person in front of you has red hair and pale skin, guess their age and subtract two.
A new study on genes and age perception implies that people with two copies of variant forms of MC1R, genes that give them red hair and pale skin, look up to two years older to the casual observer.
Test subjects were shown pictures of faces and told to estimate the person’s age. They consistently guessed that people with two copies of the gene looked older than the pictures of people of the same age who did not have the gene. People with only one copy of the gene were also consistently estimated to be older than their counterparts, but by a smaller amount.
I read this article while doing research for my novel about people who can reverse the effects of age and I put it aside, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It implies that some genes may make you look older, if not age faster. Even when the researchers adjusted for sun exposure, wrinkling, age, and sex those with the genes were consistently perceived as being older. It would be interesting to measure aging itself, not just it’s appearance, but that is very difficult to do. I may blog about that sometime, but it’ll have to wait until I come back from vacation.
Genetic Secrets to Youthful Looks Revealed