Putting names to faces

Authors

  • Kathryn H. McWeeny,

  • Andrew W. Young,

    Corresponding author
      Psychology Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YF, UK
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  • Dennis C. Hay,

  • Andrew W. Ellis


Psychology Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YF, UK

Abstract

Subjects were asked to learn occupations and surnames belonging to 16 unfamiliar faces. The experiment was intended to remove potential factors that might underlie the easier recall of people's occupations found in everyday life. Thus, contextual cues were eliminated by presenting faces in isolation, cueing from the retrieval of related items of semantic information was eliminated, and the frequency of use of occupational and name information was equated. Results showed that names remained much harder to recall than occupations. This was true even for ambiguous labels that could be used as names or as occupations. It is much harder to recall that a person's surname is Baker than to recall that a person is a baker.

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