Humans are better at remembering names than faces: Study

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Flipboard
  • Email
  • WhatsApp

London : Do you think you are good at remembering faces, but terrible with names? According to a new research, this intuition is misleading as we are more likely to remember how a person looks like.

Researchers from UK's University of York, suggest that when we castigate ourselves for forgetting someone's name we are placing unfair demands on our brains.

Remembering a person's face relies on recognition, but remembering their name is a matter of recall, and it is already well-established that human beings are much better at the former than the latter.

Further, they noted out that we only become aware that we have forgotten a name when we have already recognised the face.

That may be because faces are only recognised visually, while names can be both spoken and written down so appear in our visual and audio memory.

"Our study suggests that, while many people may be bad at remembering names, they are likely to be even worse at remembering faces. This will surprise many people as it contradicts our intuitive understanding," said Rob Jenkins, from the Department of Psychology at the University of York.

"Our life experiences with names and faces have misled us about how our minds work, but if we eliminate the double standards we are placing on memory, we start to see a different picture," Jenkins added.

For the study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, the participants were shown pictures of strangers, paired with random names. They were given time to memorise the faces and names before being tested on which they thought they had seen before.

The participants could remember up to 85 per cent of the names but only 73 per cent of the faces.

When they were shown a different picture of the same person, the participants could recall only 64 per cent of faces.

That may be because faces are only recognised visually, while names can be both spoken and written down so appear in our visual and audio memory.

"Our results show a clear recognition memory advantage for names over faces when these depict unfamiliar people -- an effect which disappears for familiar people," the researchers noted.