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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Remembering personal names is difficult. This chapter summarises empirical evidence demonstrating that personal names are more difficult to retrieve than other biographical information about people, and more difficult to retrieve than other words. Six hypotheses formulated to explain these difficulties are then addressed. Two hypotheses (the Contingent access and the Uniqueness accounts) were formulated to explain why names are more difficult to retrieve than semantic information about people. Four other hypotheses were formulated to account for the difficulty of recalling names in comparison with other words such as common nouns. These hypotheses respectively put forward that personal names lack descriptiveness, person naming requires the retrieval of one specific label, the set size of plausible phonology is larger for personal names, and the frequency of personal name usage is relatively low. It appears that a combination of factors makes personal names hard to recall.

Keywords: personal names, memory, face recognition, person recognition, lexical access, individual identification, pure reference

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