Bias/Heuristic

Primacy effect

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When we are shown a series of items, we tend to remember the first ones rather than the ones in the middle. We can also give greater importance and significance to these first items. The primacy effect can be explained by the fact that we pay more attention at the beginning of a sequence. The limits of our memory also play an important role. A lot of research has been made to try to explain this phenomenon using different methodologies. For example, a study by Brodie and Murdock showed that the primacy effect is connected to the recency effect, the fact that we recall the latest information better. This effect needs to be taken into account anytime a series of people, objects or ideas are presented to someone, to reduce the importance of the first ones compared to the others.

In one study conducted on the subject, participants were given the same description of a person but with a different word order, such as “smart, spontaneous, impulsive and jealous” and “jealous, impulsive, spontaneous, smart”. The participants that received the positive characteristics first rated the person more highly than the others.

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