Are you terrible with names? Just can’t memorise names to save your life? Whether you have difficultly recalling the names of the new kids you just met at orientation, your new colleagues (and boss) on your first day of work, or that new date from Tinder – I feel you.
You no longer have to dread being in new social situations, because science has come to our rescue and reassure all of us absent-minded people to chill. We are normal. The next time you forget whether your date is Mary, Jo or Lisa – scientists have given you an excuse to use without spending ten bucks bringing her to Starbucks just to find out her name on the sly.
A new AsapSCIENCE video explains that names are “completely arbitrary, and hold no specific information in them”. And since our brains are unable to make connections between multiple pieces of information – we are more likely to forget that information. Chances are we can remember somebody’s face over their name as “our brains are hardwired to recognise facial details”.
“The Baker Effect”
You are more likely to remember that someone is a Baker than if someone tells you his name is Baker. The former provides you with information about what the person does and how he spends his time, while the latter has no mental links and is vulnerable to forgetting.
So the next time you’re on your third Tinder date of the week, try asking her about what she enjoys doing and picturing a mental image of your date engaging in that activity.
“The Next In Line Effect”
We are also often focusing on introducing ourselves –so instead of listening to the other person, our brains are concentrating on our own routine. And despite what you may think, human beings aren’t very good at multi-tasking!
So the next time you have forgotten a new superior’s name, try explaining to your boss that you are too focussed on completing your work. Yeah, right.
What You Can Do
In an additional video, the AsapSCIENCE guys offer some tips to the memory-challenged among us. These are three of my favourites.
1. Muscle memory: Use the name whenever you address the person. Actively practising the name creates muscle memory.
2. Create a visual connection: Picture Cindy singing will help you remember the next time you see her.
3. Wordplay: Dale works in sales. Mitch is a bitch. You get the idea.