You Could Be Better at Remembering Names, If Only You Gave a Shit

Illustration for article titled You Could Be Better at Remembering Names, If Only You Gave a Shit

We all do it: we meet people, we forget their names, and then when we see them again, we say apologetically, "I'm sorry, I'm terrible with names? What's yours again?" Except it seems the truth may be that we aren't terrible with names—we just don't care enough to remember them. Ouch.


Kansas State University professor of psychology Richard Harris says it's not necessarily your memory that's the problem; it's your level of interest. He says some people are more tuned in to personal relationships—like politicians or teachers—and they're more apt to be good at remembering people's names because they're have an interest in remembering them. But for the rest of us, we may just simply not be that engaged when we meet someone. So even if we have every intention of remembering their name, it's not going to stick. Harris says you can use those tricks like making up a mnemonic device or repeating the person's name a bunch when you first meet them, but your best bet is really to "show more interest in the people you meet."

So now that you feel like a totally self-centered nincompoop, you'll be more attentive at parties. For a while, at least, until you remember that the reason you forgot all of these people's names is that they are totally boring. And, likewise, the next time you run into someone who doesn't remember your name, you'll spend the next few hours being paranoid that they found you so completely forgettable.

What's Your Name Again? Lack of Interest, Not Brain's Ability, May Be Why We Forget [ScienceDaily]

Image via M. Dykstra/Shutterstock.



I feel like I'm the only person in the world who's good with names. It's rare that I forget a name, but I feel like a freak when I address someone I have met once by their name. If I run into a person who I've met casually and say, "Oh, hi, So-and-So," I feel like So-and-So will be all, "Geez, nobody remembers names anymore! She must be obsessed and stalking me!"

I like it when someone remembers my name — it feels considerate to me. Maybe there's something to this lack of interest thing...