The Relationship Between Primacy And Recency

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For many years trial consultants and lawyers have talked about how a trial should be structured to take into account primacy and recency effects. In its simplest form (and it really isn't much more complicated than its simplest form), primacy and recency theory predicts people will remember information best that occurs at the beginning and end of communications, and will be more likely to forget what is in the middle. This idea has been used to argue that openings and closings are the most important parts of the trial; that the beginning and end of a witness's testimony will be best remembered; that lawyers should save important points for the start and the end of a trial day; and so on. While these ideas may make intuitive sense, the fact is that there is no real empirical evidence to support them (at least based on the concepts of the primacy and recency effects).…show more content…
[1957] Primacy-recency in impression formation (pp.33-40, 50-61) in C. Hovland [Ed.] The Order of Presentation in Persuasion. New Haven, Conn. Yale University). They were based on a series of experiments in which subjects read lists of words and immediately reported back what words they remembered. There has been an enormous amount of follow-up work over the years, and the experiments have generally had two features: They a) use word lists and b) measure recall within a very short time after the subject has been exposed to
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