I remember your name perfectly but I just can't think of your face

Carla M Forster (Editor), May Gordon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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    In the 20th Century, many psychological experiments were often deeply flawed and rarely replicated. They suffered from both gender and WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) bias, with samples dominated by white men, often university students. Whilst learning and recall of names and faces is an important skill in all societies, most previous studies have focused on the recognition of Caucasian faces by white undergraduate participants. This research has attempted to minimise the WEIRD and sexist bias by including participants outside higher education and using multi-ethnic women’s faces. The study used common women’s first names and female faces of multiple ethnic groups for an online comparative Hebb repetition experiment performed with 81 participants (65 female and 16 male, with the median age group at 18-24). The Hebb effect can be defined as the gradual improvement in memorising, learning and recall of the order of objects in a list when the list is repeatedly shown to the observer. The results provide evidence that there is a differential Hebb effect observed for remembering women’s faces and names. The recall accuracy of the Name Only and Face and Name Conditions were consistently higher than the Face Only Condition. However, the Face Only Condition showed the strongest Hebb learning effect. This indicates that participants found it easier to accurately recall women’s names than their faces but that the recall accuracy of face recognition improved with practice. The implications of these results are that it is easier to remember the name of a women than her face and that, in order to remember her face more accurately, a person needs to see it at least twice. These results suggest that different mechanisms are employed for Face and Name memory.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBristol Institute for Learning and Teaching (BILT) Student Research Journal
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2024


    • Hebb effect
    • Levenshtein distance
    • semantics
    • Face and Name memory

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