The failure of people to remember names of the people they encounter, is a matter that has been mentioned to be occurring quite often especially in the older adults. The authors cite the factors leading to memory lapses and difficulty in name learning and recall. Lower frequency of name use has been argued to be one of the causes of poor recall abilities. The phonological sequence of names than other words is also a factor contributing to difficulty in recall. The authors also argue that names have lower ability of forming images as compared to other words. The rigidity of the relationship between the name and the referrer has also been mentioned to be stifling the recall process. It is a combination of the mentioned factors that make it more difficult for people to remember proper names. In the experiment that has been undertaken, the non descriptive nature of names was put to test using young and old adults. The article further presents data which tends to reveal the role of descriptiveness to name recall. They have hypothesized that proper names are more difficult to retrieve than descriptive names. Pictures of people and cartoons were used unlike real people in the experiment.
The authors identify weaknesses in earlier studies that have not tested the aspects of proper names. The aspects of proper names make these names more difficult to retrieve than the other names. The methodology adopted uses 20 young adults and an equal number of older adults. The experiment involved first a pilot study in which the participants were exposed to 66 characters that were made familiar to all of them prior to the experiment. In cases where the participants could not recall, the names were provided while in the case where names were produced a scale was used to rate how descriptive and famous they found the name. The participants in the pilot experiment were not used in the main experiment. The main experiment had a procedure in which descriptiveness was repeated to 46 participants. The results obtained both in the pilot and main study went through an analysis of variance (ANOVA).
The results of the experiment indicated that there was a decline that is age –related in the retrieval of well known proper names as a result of the manipulation of a feature of the name. The results also indicated that the adult people have disproportionate impairment in the retrieval of non descriptive names. The study found a substantial advantage in the percentage of correct responses for descriptive other than the non descriptive character names in the young adults’ category. In the discussion, it is clearly indicated that the older adults experience more problems in retrieving names as compared to the young adults. The results of the experiment were consistent with already existing literature concerning the problems of adults in retrieving proper names and nondescript names.
Strengths and weaknesses of methodology
In my view, the methodology adopted for the study was successful because it was properly organized in terms of materials and the procedure which seems to be precise. The procedure managed to produce results that are consistent with already established facts that claim that there is a decline with age in the ability to recall names. The design of the procedure in such a way that the pilot study was conducted and the results also incorporated in the main experiment. This is one strength that must have been instrumental in the success of the entire procedure. It is also worth noting that in the experiment it was ensured that the participants were all familiar with the names that were used in the experiment. This prevented more errors especially those that are associated with the no response from the older age groups. Therefore this was a strength in itself that led to the success of the procedure.
In terms of weaknesses it is important to mention that the prevailing “don’t know” responses were not a good thing in the experiment. This is because initially an effort had been put in place to ensure that all the participants were familiar with the names that were being used in the experiment. This manifests some bit of contradiction which should not exist.
Another weakness concerned the time pressure that the participants had to be subjected to as they gave out their responses. This might have altered the results of the experiments. Future procedures should ensure that participants are given adequate time to ensure that their responses are all captured in the experiment.
I personally have problems with recalling proper names of people I encounter in life. This article has provided more information on the causes of the difficulty I have experienced in life in recalling proper names. The content that has been covered in class concerning memory has to a large extent been articulated in this research article.
Overall the experiment as presented in the article was a success because it proved an already known situation amongst adults as aging comes in slowly. Most people experience name recall problems and it is indeed an embarrassing situation at times. This article therefore makes a significant contribution to future research concerning memory lapses in adult people. The results can be utilized in literature review to support important arguments. Future theoretical approaches can adopt the results of this experiment to justify important hypotheses on human name recall abilities.
Sigelman, C.K, and Rider, E.A.(2008). Lifespan Human Development (6th Edition).