Why are some people's names easier to learn than others? The effects of face similarity on memory for face-name associations

Pantelis, P. C., Van Vugt, M. K., Sekuler, R., Wilson, H. R. & Kahana, M. J., 1-Sep-2008, In : Memory & Cognition. 36, 6, p. 1182-1195 14 p.

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  • Why are some people’s names easier to learn than others

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Using synthetic faces that varied along four perceptual dimensions (Wilson, Loffler, & Wilkinson, 2002), we examined the effects of face similarity on memory for face-name associations. The nature of these stimuli allowed us to go beyond the categorical similarity manipulations used in previous verbal associative memory studies to trace out the parametric relation between similarity and various performance measures. In Experiment 1, we found that recall performance diminished as a function of how many studied faces were in the vicinity of the cue face in similarity space. Also, incorrect recalls were more likely to come from nearby positions in face space. Experiments 2 and 3, respectively, demonstrated analogous effects with a set of more distinguishable, photorealistic faces, and in an associative recognition task. These results highlight the similarity between associative recall and associative recognition, and between face-name association and other domains of associative memory. Copyright 2008 Psychonomic Society, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1182-1195
Number of pages14
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1-Sep-2008


  • article, associative memory, confusion, controlled study, decision making, female, human, human experiment, learning, male, normal human, perception, recall, recognition, stimulation

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