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This Is Why You’re Terrible With Names

Name BadgeThere is a very simple reason why it’s so easy for the names of new acquaintances to slip right out of your head within moments of being introduced: Names are kind of meaningless. Memory experts say that the more pathways back to a memory you have, the easier it becomes to retrieve that memory, and this just doesn’t often happen naturally with names. For example, even details as seemingly minor as what you were wearing on a particular day or what the weather happened to be doing can make it easier to recall other events that occurred that day, like the particulars of a conversation you had with a friend. But names, on the other hand, usually don’t give your brain much information to grasp onto beyond the name itself.

Sure, there may be family history or a great deal of sentimental meaning behind a person’s first name, but when you meet someone at a party, there’s no readily apparent reason why this guy should be named Mike and that guy should be named Max. Names are “completely arbitrary, and hold no specific information in them,” the narrator of a new AsapSCIENCE video on name-forgetting explains. “And if your brain can’t make connections between multiple pieces of information … then you’re more likely to forget that information.”

Read more: This Is Why You’re Terrible With Names — Science of Us

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