Why We Mix Up Some Names And Not Others

Have you ever slipped up and called your sibling by your dog’s name? These types of mistakes are common, and Duke University researchers recently looked at survey results from over 1,700 respondents. They found that name mix-ups (calling one person by another’s name) usually occur within the same relationship category. For example, you’re more likely to mix up the names of family members with family members, and friends with friends. The data also revealed that phonetic similarity between names sometimes contributed to mix-ups, though to a lesser degree than relationship categories. Researcher David Rubin explains, “It’s a cognitive mistake we make, which reveals something about who we consider to be in our group. It’s not just random.” Interestingly, the study shows that people even mixed up the names of family members with that of the family dog, but the same wasn’t true for cat owners. It’s thought this is because cats are less likely to respond to their names or come when called, and that it may speak to the unique bond humans seem to have with dogs. (MentalFloss