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The primacy effect, in psychology, is a cognitive bias that results from disproportionate salience of initial stimuli or observations. If, for example, a subject reads a sufficiently-long list of words, he or she is more likely to remember words read toward the beginning than words read in the middle.
The phenomenon is said to be due to the fact that the short term memory at the beginning of whatever sequence of events is being presented, is far less 'crowded' and that since there are far fewer items being processed in the brain at the time when presented than later, there is more time for rehearsal of the stimuli which can cause them to be 'transferred' to the long term memory for longer storage.
The recency effect is comparable to the primacy effect, but for final stimuli or observations. Taken together the primacy effect and the recency effect predict that, in a list of items, the ones most likely to be remembered are the items near the beginning and the end of the list (serial position effect). Lawyers scheduling the appearance of witnesses for court testimony, and managers scheduling a list of speakers at a conference, take advantage of these effects when they put speakers they wish to emphasize at the very beginning or the very end of a long list.
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