Ever meet someone at a party or work function, then run into them a few days later at your bodega or local grocery spot and completely space on their name? Then you do that awkward song and dance, doing everything you can to avoid having to admit you can’t remember their name? Hey babe, it’s cool. It happens to the best of us! There’s actually a scientific reason behind it. Simply put: your brain is wired to recognize a face, but names are another story.
There are evolutionary reasons – four, to be exact – as to why we’re wired to recall a face more easily than a name. Dr. David Ludden, Ph.D. (professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College) shares in Psychology Today the reasons are arbitrary, they do not have synonyms, are low-frequency, and contain multiple words. It’s easier and faster for our brain to recognize something we see, versus remembering a word or series of words. “We even have dedicated machinery in the brain for processing facial features. This makes facial recognition quick and relatively accurate.”
Need more evidence? This video by ASAPScience gives a great overview of these reasons and even dives a little further into the reasons Dr. Ludden compiled, identifying this phenomenon as the “Baker Effect.” What exactly is the Baker Effect? Here’s a basic rundown: its namesake comes from the idea if you meet a baker named Baker, you’re more likely to remember her name is Baker. Makes sense, right?
Think about the times you may have tried to associate connections to physical objects and people just to try and remember their names. Sometimes using a rhyme is helpful. For example – Heather wore those gorgeous handmade feather earrings to the party on Saturday night. If you think of those feather earrings, you’re likely to picture Heather’s face, therefore making the connection between the object and her name. So next time you run into her, you’re more likely to recall her name.
If remembering people’s names is hard for you, don’t be too hard on yourself. Chalk it up to evolution! And remember, it’s not the end of the world if you have to ask someone what their name is again. When you ask, you can bring up this information and start a v cool, intellectual conversation with your new acquaintance. Then, you both can try to come up with some mnemonic devices to help you remember names in the future. That’s fun, right?
How do you remember names of people you’ve met once or twice? Share your tips and tricks with your fellow vinas below!