Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'He Looks Like A 'Bob'' Is True

Date:
May 21, 2007
Source:
Miami University
Summary:
Researchers at Miami University think they know why you can remember some peoples' names but not others'. They've shown quantitatively that certain names are associated with certain facial features. For example, when people hear the name "Bob" they have in mind a larger, round face than when they hear a name such as "Tim" or "Andy."

Which person would be inclined to call Bob, and which Tim? An entire lecture hall of students chose the bearded man as Tim and the round-faced man as Bob.
Credit: Photos copyright Psychonomic Bulletin and Review

Researchers at Miami University think they know why you can remember some peoples’ names but not others’. They’ve shown quantitatively that certain names are associated with certain facial features.

Related Articles


For example, when people hear the name “Bob” they have in mind a larger, round face than when they hear a name such as “Tim” or “Andy.” Robin Thomas, associate professor of psychology, and colleagues not only show that this link exists, but they also show that if people try to learn face-name pairs that go against their expectations, they have a hard time doing it.

Melissa Lea, visiting assistant professor at Union College, N.Y. and a former Miami graduate student, and Aaron Bell and Nathan Lamkin, former undergraduates with research scholarships, worked with Thomas through various steps of establishing the face-name association. Their article on this research has been accepted for publication in the Psychonomic Society’s journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Mixed gender groups of college students participated in the study, which used men’s names that appear with equal frequency among that age group. Only white male faces with the same hairstyle were used, as gender and race have large impacts on perception and researchers were looking for subtly perceived differences among mostly homogeneous faces.

Participants were asked to create faces appropriate for 15 specific names using face construction software, similar to programs used by the police in eyewitness identification. A second group of participants generally endorsed the faces as fitting the names: Most predictable name-face matches were Bob, Bill, Brian and Jason. “These prototype faces that seem to exist for different names are not just idly occupying space in our mind, but have implications for how easily one learns the names of individuals,” says Thomas.

In a third study, the authors demonstrate that if the name fits the face, with ‘fit’ being defined by the previous matching study, participants can more easily learn the face-name pairing, but when the name doesn’t fit, people have more difficulty learning to name the faces.

“People choose names for their babies not knowing how they will look later in life, but it seems society has an idea of what people’s names might be merely by looking at them,” says Thomas.

Thomas and colleagues have two directions in mind for more research. One is to try to identify why people seem to have particular types of faces in mind for some names. One hypothesis that has some support is that the sound of the name crosses over to the visual representation. For example, ‘Bob’ is a round sounding name and many participants produced a relatively round face for the name ‘Bob’. Evidence from a recent study supports this possibility.

A second direction of their research is to examine if there are any top-down consequences on face perception of having face-name prototypes in our heads. “That is, if I tell you the fellow you will be meeting this afternoon is named ‘Bob’ will you perceive his face rounder than it actually is? Or if I tell you that his name is ‘Tim’, will you perceive him to be thinner than he actually is?” asks Thomas. “These types of effects of category labels on lower-level perception are becoming a concern for researchers in cognitive and social psychology because their existence suggest that we may not ever be able to see what’s actually there but will always be influenced by what we expect to be there.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Miami University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Miami University. "'He Looks Like A 'Bob'' Is True." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070518164713.htm>.
Miami University. (2007, May 21). 'He Looks Like A 'Bob'' Is True. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070518164713.htm
Miami University. "'He Looks Like A 'Bob'' Is True." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070518164713.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins