Reason You Call the Dog’s Name When You Meant to Call Your Kid

If you’ve ever called out your dog’s name when you really meant to call your son or daughter, don’t worry — you’re not a bad parent, it doesn’t mean you love your dog more than your child, and it’s not the early stages of senility. A new study found that doing something like that, what’s called “misnaming,” happens because of how our brains organize names and categories of people. The Duke University researchers found that people often mix up the names of people with similar social relationships to them. So siblings are called by the names of other siblings, friends are called by the names of other friends, coworkers are called by the names of other coworkers, etc. This suggests that seeing or thinking of someone can sometimes trigger incorrect activation in the brain of another person’s name since they are in the same social group or category. Names that sound that same can also lead to misnaming. And the study found that we’ll mistakenly use the dog’s name instead of family members, but it doesn’t happen with other pets. The researchers said that could be because we think of dogs as more human-like members of the family that we do other pets, or because dogs actually come when they’re called, so we more often communicate with them than other pets.