why is it easier to recognise things that we know than recalling them?


For example: it is very easy to recognise that you know an actor, but sometimes recalling their name is harder. However, you can recognise their name if you were given options to choose from.

In: Biology

If you’re given a list of names to choose from, and one is correct, you can basically do process of elimination to get rid of any you don’t recognize, and any you *do* recognize, but you know aren’t the right name.

The flip side of that is similar in process. Your brain says “do I recognize this thing?” So you’ll know if you recognize it, or if it’s new.

To recall a name on your own, your brain has to make an extra connection from the face to the name. If you have a list to choose from, that extra connection is done for you.

Some connections are stronger than others, so it might be easier to recall one detail over another.

For example, think of an actor/actress you’ve only seen in one or two roles. I bet you can remember their character’s name easier than their real name.

Now think of a super famous actor/actress who has been in films for like 15+ years. I bed you can remember their real name better than the name of the characters they played. In this scenario, you’ve had more opportunities to make connections to their real name than the name of one specific character.