[PS-3.63] Small but robust: Challenging the age of acquisition effect in brand name recognition

Thoma, D. & Lindheimer, N.

University of Mannheim

In a pioneering study Ellis, Holmes and Wright (2010) showed that the recognition advantage of words learned early in life also applies to brand names. The age of acquisition (AoA) effect is methodologically difficult to disentangle from frequency effects. In three experiments, we replicate and extend the work by Ellis et al. by sampling interesting populations, cross-validating tasks and contrasting classic bivariate analyses (used in previous research) with mixed-model regressions. In Exp. 1 and 2, 97 mature participants aged 50 to 92 sat a lexical decision and naming task, respectively, where they were presented brands they had learned decades ago and that were still on the market (surviving) or extinct in contrast to recently launched brands. In Exp. 3, 24 participants born and raised in the former German Democratic Republic aged 37-52 completed a semantic categorization task on surviving, recent as well as brand names that suffered a sudden death when the state collapsed. All experiments showed an AoA effect in brand name recognition. While surviving names were most quickly recognized, even brands that disappeared more than twenty years ago had an AoA advantage independently of significant frequency and familiarity effects reflected in the mixed models.