People Are Better at Remembering Names Rather Than Faces
People Are Better at Remembering Names Rather Than Faces

People Are Better at Remembering Names Rather Than Faces

People Are Better at Remembering Names Rather Than Faces

How many times has this happened to you? You are at a networking event that is the perfect opportunity to gain new clients for your company. As you make your rounds around the room, shaking hands, someone stops you and says, “How nice to see you again!” You look at their face and draw a blank, yet you can remember their name. One would think that it would be the other way around, but one research study proved otherwise. You are more likely to recall a person’s name versus recognizing their face. Keep reading to find out more.

The study

The University of York held a research study to find out why. In a game of recognition, researchers presented participants’ names in one font. They then showed them real faces with distinguishing characteristics (hairstyles makeup, lighting, etc). Later, they showed the same names to the group but in a different font. Similarly, they showed the same faces but with different characteristics from before. 64% of people remembered faces, while 83% remembered names. Lead researchers Dr. Rob Jenkins, from the Department of Psychology at the University of York, concluded that the study suggests that people who say they are bad with names, will be worse at remembering faces.

Why faces are harder to remember

A friend of mine once admitted to me how terrible she was with names. Laughing, she said she “met” her friend’s brother, twice. The first time she spent time focusing on his facial features. He was a tall man with dark hair and a distinguished jawline. She made the same mistake many people do. Science shows when you try to remember someone that way, your mind can wander, and the name escapes you. The University of Greenwich hoped to prove the opposite with their “Super Recognizer” test. Following the same concept as the study from the University of New York, you are shown a picture of someone in one slide, then asked to pick the same face out of a group of images. Your score will surprise you.

Why people remember names better

To answer the question as to why people remember names better than faces remains. Despite in-depth research and multiple studies, scientists still haven’t uncovered the reason. Dr. Jenkins explains, “Our knee-jerk reaction to it is to say that names must be harder to memorize than faces, but researchers have never been able to come up with a convincing explanation as to why that might be. This study suggests a resolution to that problem by showing that it is actually a red herring in the first place.” Now it’s your turn. Take this quiz from Buzzfeed, where they’ll introduce you to several individuals twice and ask you to remember their name. You are then presented with their faces and asked to choose the correct name. Compare your results with the quiz from above. Which one did you do better at?

Tips on how to remember names

If you are still under the impression that remembering faces is easier than names, follow a process that will help you recall their name the next time you run into them again. Pay attention to when they first introduce themselves and repeat their name out loud. “Nice to meet you, Jane” will suffice. Find something about them that is memorable. Maybe they have an elaborate necklace on or an unusual hair color. After you are done speaking with them, say their name one last time. If you get a business card, that’s great for sales. But it won’t always help you recall their name the next networking event you attend with them. 

For more tips on how to remember someone’s name better, sign up for Iris Reading’s How To Remember Names Effectively online course. Here, you’ll learn how politicians and other professionals remember names more effectively. Click the link to learn more today.

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