Never forget a face? Take the test

WASHINGTON U. – ST. LOUIS (US) — A new online experiment tests your ability to remember names and faces, and compares your score with others’. 

The test, which can be taken from a computer, smartphone, iPad, and other mobile devices, is part of a growing “crowd-sourcing” trend in science, which harnesses the Internet to gather massive amounts of research data while allowing individual study participants to learn a little something about themselves.

To take part, just visit the test website.


“It’s a simple test that only takes about 10 minutes to complete,” says research team member David Balota, professor of psychology. “We’re finding that people really seem to enjoy being tested this way.”

By participating, individuals both contribute to the science of memory and also receive feedback about their own face-name memory performance in comparison with others who have participated.

By placing the test online, researchers are hoping to obtain a wealth of data on how a very diverse sampling of the human population performs on a simple memory performance task.

They hope that social media will help spread the word about the experiment in order to get as many people as possible to take the online test.

After completion of the test, users will be provided with a rough estimate of their “Face-Name Memory IQ” score, which simply reflects how their score stacks up against others who have taken the test.

Designed to be both fun and informative, the test also is easy to share among friends—users can “like” their results to share them on Facebook.

Balota recently took part in a similar international online experiment that used an iPhone app to test how quickly participants could identify whether a string of presented letters represented a real word or some made-up non-word, such as “flirp.”

“The word-recognition study was conducted in seven languages, and, in four months, we collected as much data as a more laboratory-based version took three years to collect in a single language,” Balota says.

“At one point, it was the fifth-most downloaded word game app in the Netherlands.”

Mary Pyc, a postdoctoral research associate in psychology, collaborated with Todd Sproull, a lecturer in computer science, to develop the online presentation of the face-name memory test. Students from the university’s Internet Technologies and Applications (ITA) internship program also assisted in system development.

Other members of the Washington University research team include Professor Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger III and Kathleen B. McDermott, professor of psychology.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis