Do you ever call your kids by their sibling’s name? Sandra Deffler, a professor and memory researcher at Duke University, wanted to know why. In her recent study she found that people have a hard time remembering names due to frustration, stress and weariness.
Name mix-ups were most common among family members and friends. Moms and dads mix up the names of their kids along with the family dog, and friends mixed up the names of their pals. In a survey of more than 1,500 college students, more than half reported that they had been called by the wrong name by a parent or friend.
“My mom would call me and my sister Cassidy the dog’s name,” said Deffler, now a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Rollins College. “I was initially disheartened, but now we’ve found out that it happens to a lot of people. It appears to be a problem with recall."
The mistakes may be rooted in the way we file information in our brains, which appear to work like a library cataloguing system. Just as books about psychology would be stacked on the same shelf, the names of family members appear to be filed together, while the names of friends are filed in a different spot. The mistakes happen within those categories.