Why do we sometimes forget people's names?

Written by Mariana Santos

ArqBahia team of authors.

Have you ever been in the situation where you know someone, but surprisingly, their name seems to have evaporated, slipping through the fingers of your memory? I know I'm not alone in this, and I believe you too have experienced this phenomenon that leaves us in tight skirts. Let's explore together why sometimes we just can't remember people's names.

Initial inattention

Last night, for example, I was at a birthday party, meeting new people, and now I can't remember the names of these individuals. After all, how can our mind play this trick on us? The explanation may lie in the fact that, when we are introduced to someone, our attention is not fully focused on hearing their name. We are more concerned with the formality of the greeting, whether we should give two kisses or handshakes, whether the person uses deodorant or not. Or even if she is attractive to us. The name is often relegated to the background.

Emotional interest

Another point to consider is the level of emotional interest we have in remembering the person's name. Our brain is more emotional than rational, and naturally, we tend to remember things that affect us emotionally. If the person does not arouse significant interest in us, their name is likely to be quickly forgotten. Those who are more extroverted may have an easier time remembering names, as they focus their attention on what really interests them.

Meaningless name

Furthermore, the name itself often does not carry significant information. Our brain is efficient at saving space for relevant data. If we don't establish some emotional connection or memorable experience with the person, the name becomes an empty label. It’s as if our mind says, “Why should I remember this? There is nothing exciting here.”

Stimulus overload

In environments with a lot of information and stimuli, such as parties or social events, our brain can become overloaded. It processes a huge amount of stimuli at the same time and, sometimes, it simply can't handle it all. In these moments, names can be lost among so much information, unless there is a particular emotional interest in remembering that specific person.


So, if you, like me, are also one of those people who forget names easily, don't worry. After all, our brain is an almost perfect machine, but it is driven more by emotions than by reason. And you, have you ever been through similar situations? Share your stories in the comments and let's laugh together at our memory failures. To the next!

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