Creating a face-name association
- Select a distinctive feature of the face (nose).
- Select a word or phrase that sounds like the name (con rat for Conrad).
- Create an interactive image linking the distinctive feature with the keyword(s) (a man in a prisoner’s uniform — con — rides a rat that slides down the nose).
To remember the name on seeing the face again, you must:
- Identify the distinctive feature that you used when encoding (nose).
- Use that feature to help you retrieve the interactive image (a con riding a rat sliding down a nose).
- Derive the keyword(s) from the image (con rat).
- Use the keyword to help you retrieve the name (Conrad).
Drawbacks to the face-name association method
To use the face-name association method in a social situation requires a great deal of practice.
The other drawback to this method is that it requires you to select a distinctive feature. This is not always easy, particularly when you’re distracted and time is short (which is usually the case when you’re being introduced to someone). But finding a distinctive feature is absolutely crucial to the strategy’s effectiveness.
Face-name association only works well to the extent that the selected distinctive feature is an effective cue.
McCarty, D.L. 1980. Investigation of a visual imagery mnemonic device for acquiring face-name associations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 6, 145-155.