Testing protects against proactive interference in face-name learning

Yana Weinstein, Kathleen B. McDermott, Karl K. Szpunar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Learning face-name pairings at a social function becomes increasingly more difficult the more individuals one meets. This phenomenon is attributable to proactive interference-the negative influence of prior learning on subsequent learning. Recent evidence suggests that taking a memory test can alleviate proactive interference in verbal list learning paradigms. We apply this technique to face- name pair learning. Participants studied four lists of 12 face-name pairings and either attempted to name the 12 faces just studied after every list or did not. Recall attempts after every list improved learning of the fourth list by over 100%. Moreover, no reduction in learning of face-name pairings occurred from list 1 to list 4 for participants who attempted to name studied faces between lists. These results suggest that testing oneself on the names of a group of new acquaintances before moving on to the next group is an effective mnemonic technique for social functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-523
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Face-name learning
  • Proactive interference
  • Testing


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing protects against proactive interference in face-name learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this