The Primacy Effect

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Introduction The primacy effect is a memory theory that claims items presented in the beginning of a series are more easily remembered than items presented later in the series. The primacy effect is mostly associated with short-term memory recall and has the greatest effect when there is no delay between the different pieces of given information (Straker, 2011). The primacy effect results from a cognitive bias that states items presented at the beginning of a sequential presentation are more easily remembered because at that time, the brain is more attentive and has fewer items to process, allowing them to be better stored and later recalled more easily (Weidman, 2016). The primacy effect can be explored in numerous ways. There have been…show more content…
There are several psychological factors that influence how and why the primacy effect works. The primacy effect is a cognitive bias, or a tendency of deviation in judgement dealing with perception (Kiff, 2013). The primacy effect results from a disproportionate importance put on an original stimulant. In the study, the original stimulants were the first four words on the list. In this case, the disproportionate importance of the stimulant was caused by the positioning of each word on the list, as the words at the top of the list were most likely read by the subjects before the words later in the list. Because the words at the top of a list are typically read first, the brain has fewer items to process during this time. Because the brain processes these words first, it is able to rehearse the words at the top of the list for longer than words that are processed later at the bottom of the list. The longer the brain has to process and rehearse information, the more easily it can be recalled in the short-term (Weidman,…show more content…
This data is very similar to the study done by Huang, Tomasini, and Nikel (1977), where there was roughly a 50% difference between words presented in the beginning of the list and those presented later. The current study most resembled this study, as they both had to do with sequential positioning of words on a list, and short-term memory recall. The other two studies, performed by Asch (1946) and Furnam (1986), are harder to compare to the current study because they differ in setup, and give results in a different format. However, both studies confirmed the primacy effect theory, similarly to the current study.
The primacy effect theory and the effects of sequential positioning provide insight into human memory recollection than can be, and is often exploited beneficially. The primacy effect is carefully taken into consideration in many aspects of advertisement or most any type of persuasion. One common example of the primacy effect in advertisement is the logical placement of positive and meaningful information at the very beginning of an ad, thus intending it to be better remembered later by the audience. This type of placement is also true in almost any type of persuasion, such as acceptance of new
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