Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Remembering proper names as a potential exception to the better-than-average effect in younger and older adults.


People see themselves as better than average in many domains, from leadership skills to driving ability. However, many people-especially older adults-struggle to remember others' names, and many of us are aware of this struggle. Our beliefs about our memory for names may be different from other information; perhaps forgetting names is particularly salient. We asked younger and older adults to rate themselves compared with others their age on several socially desirable traits (e.g., honesty); their overall memory ability; and their specific ability to remember scientific terms, locations, and people's names. Participants demonstrated a better-than-average (BTA) effect in their ratings of most items except their ability to remember names, which both groups rated as approximately the same as others their age. Older adults' ratings of this ability were related to a measure of the social consequences of forgetting another's name, but younger adults' ratings were not. The BTA effect is present in many judgments for both younger and older adults, but people may be more attuned to memory failures when those failures involve social consequences. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View