Have you ever experienced short-term memory loss? Do you know what it means to remember only recent information? That is the recency effect! While trying to remember a list, the fact that you’re likely to recollect the items studied last is a recency effect. An event in which the position of an item on a list affects recollection is known as the serial position effect.
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- Definition of the Recency Effect
- Further Understanding of the Recency Effect
- How Does this Phenomenon Work?
- Why and When Does the Recency Effect Occur?
- Some Examples for Better Understanding
- Factors that Influence the Recency Effect
- What Impact Does this effect have on learning?
- Final Verdict
Definition of the Recency Effect
A 1962 study by psychologist Bennet Murdock shows the recency effect. Murdock investigates how word order affects the ability of memory. The participants in the survey read lists of words to each other loudly and listened to ten different words. Once the participant listened to these words, it took a minute and a half for a free call or remembrance. Murdock argued that it is possible to have the memory of something depending on where you found it.
Murdock tells us that the possibility of recalling every word on a list reduces when you get to the middle; however, it increases towards the last few words of the list. He explained the result with a graph using the X and Y-axis. The final result of this analysis is referred to as the serial position curve. The serial position tells us how the memory for words begins at a high rate at the beginning, drops in the middle, and increases towards the end of the list.
The Recency effect
The recency effect is the ability to remember clearly the items that come last on a list. Let’s take the alphabet A-Z as an example – you’re likely to remember the first letters A and B and the last few letters, W, X, Y, and Z. The ability to recollect the first few, the middle letters (if possible) and the last few letters are connected to the primacy effect.
The primacy effects
This effect states that individuals will remember a few items on a list because they come first. Committing a list of things to your memory is like running an endurance contest. You would be able to memorize the beginning, the middle (blurry), and the end (ideally). This effect speaks mainly about the beginning of the list because it is the point from where you started from. Primacy effects talk about the beginning, while the recency effects talk about the finish.
The serial position curves
The study of this phenomenon began with psychologist Herbert Ebbinghaus who noticed how the human memory could be inferior. His research started with creating consonant-vowel-consonants (CVCs) which he called nonsense syllables. These syllables were created to be challenging to remember. Some of these CVCs include CAH, WUG, NIB, etc.
While on the research, he had his coworkers create a list of the CVCs with only nonsense syllables that are hard to remember. Ebbinghaus was given the list to memorize; he was then required to recreate the CVCs from his memory.
Herbert Ebbinghaus took the list to compare the words recreated with the words on the list. He discovered that he could recall some words at the beginning, only a few in the middle of the list, and more words towards the end. This order of recall led to the serial position curves; the serial position is a result of the position of each word which tells how much it would be remembered.
Further Understanding of the Recency Effect
Its first discovery was by the neuroscientific Hermann Ebbinghaus during his memory experiments. He noted that the accuracy of recalling items from an index varies according to location. The items that found their way to the last page of the table are the most recently learned, and the first few items are more easily recalled than in the middle.
You’re likely experiencing these effects several times a week when trying new stuff on the Internet. Once the information has become known, immediately receive an examination covering the material to check your retention.
If you pay attention to your memory and understanding level, you will realize that the recency effect happens to you from time to time. The effect mainly occurs when you make an effort to learn something new or different. Let’s assume you started learning new things; after learning these, you’re then given a test to know your recollection span. Do you know how much of the material you would recall best? Would you be able to pass the test given?
There is a slight chance that you would recall all that you read. Nevertheless, you would recall most things you learned last or most recently, and also a few things you learned first. But you are more likely to scuffle with the information in the middle.
The recency effect gives us a good understanding of the workings of our memory. It helps us to develop ways in which we can get the best out of our memory. Maximization of the human memory happens when we can comprehend the why and how this recency effect occurs.
How Does this Phenomenon Work?
Receptive effects depend on a short-term mental process. This type of human memory also called the active memory, is the ability to retain a relatively short amount of memory. Those details may be retained to be utilized but cannot be altered. A simple way of remembering a number someone just called you for a long time can provide the best example of recollection in memory.
During the course of a memory period, short durations and power are restricted. Most information on the human memory lasts for a few moments without requiring active maintenance or rehearsal. Three items can stay in short-term memory for a short period.
It would interest you to know that short-term memory is the base upon which the recency effect is dependent. Short-term memory can also be referred to as primary or active memory. It is the ability of a person to grasp a reasonably small amount of memory for a short period.
During this retention period, the information memorized is kept active in mind for use and not manipulated. The act of storing a mobile number recited to you enough for dialing is an example of short-term memory.
Duration and capacity are factors that cause the limit of short-term memory. The fun fact about this type of memory is that the information retained lasts for only a few seconds. The absence of active rehearsal and maintenance brings its duration to a range of 15 and 30 seconds. Research shows that an estimate of 4 pieces of information is sure to be held for a short period with short-term memory.
The recency effect experiences a thrilling impact due to delayed recall after listening to a list of items; this is not alarming. However, this effect can be eradicated with an extended delay in items for learning and recollection.
The recency effect is set to occur in cases whereby you can quickly remember items stored in your short-term memory on short notice. Failure to rehearse the information will lead to losing the information and making it fade away from your memory quickly.
Why and When Does the Recency Effect Occur?
Both recency and primacy effects may have resulted from memory. There is some reason for recency effects. One of these is that there is a current record of information. Test results can also be deposited directly into memory if tests are performed shortly before learning. So, recalling will be easier.
Other possible causes of temporal cues might include the ability to retain newly learned information. When one performs the list and immediately tests it, temporal context may help cue the data recall.
The recency effect is very much likely to occur due to memory processes; the same goes for the primacy effects. The reason for this occurrence has a few explanations attached for it.
The recency effect occurs because the newest information is still in the current inactive memory. This explanation further says that if a test is conducted right after learning, the last piece of any known material might be held actively in the short-term memory.
Also, the recall of the latest information learned can be improved with the help of time-based cues. In a situation where an individual practices a list and gets tested right after, the temporal context will assist in cuing the recollection of the information.
According to psychologists, the recency effect happens when the individuals complete a memory test right after being given a list of items. In other words, other research shows that psychologists have also given the individuals things for remembrance alongside a bit of distraction.
The distraction could include telling the individuals to count numbers backward by 2 or 3. After the distraction, these individuals are then requested to try and recall the words from the list given to them.
This study was carried out to show that when distraction presents itself before a memory test is completed, recency effects will not be found. Nevertheless, in studies like this, the primacy effect, which involves having a good memory for initial items on a list, still happens.
All studies carried out led to psychologists proposing that the recency effect and the primacy effect could result from different procedures. They further said that the recency effect is likely to involve short-term memory.
Asides from the studies carried out by most psychologists, research proposed that the recency effect might turn out to be more complicated than it is presently. It also says that the effect might be a result of a lot more than the short-term memory procedures.
Some Examples for Better Understanding
To better understand the recency effect, some examples will be outlined. These examples will help us see the different areas in which the effect plays out in our day-to-day activities.
Let us say that you’re at a restaurant and the waiter recites the list of all specials available. When you’re set to order, you will notice that you can recall only the last two on the list. In some cases, you might be able to recall one from the beginning and three at the end. The possibility of remembering more than 50% of the specials on the list is very slim.
A typical scenario has to do with your shopping list. You just made a list of things you need to get at the supermarket, but you forgot it at home. The recency effect proves that you would be able to remember the last few items you added to the list. Also, you would struggle to remember the things in the middle of the list. This is a result of the recency effect and the strength of your memory.
Assuming you are part of the research team for a new product or you’re researching a new product you want to buy. The recency effect proves that you are likely to take note of the first impression you get about the product and the last information you got about it. During your research, if you get positive information/views about the product at the beginning and the end, you’re likely to buy the product. However, if you get unfavorable information in between the first and last positive information, you’re still more likely to get the product.
You would have it easy remembering events from direct past events rather than things that happened in your distinct past. Let’s use your eating routine as an example. You might have a little difficulty recalling what you had for lunch this afternoon, but remembering what you had a week ago would prove even more difficult or impossible in the long run.
Time and time again, we see the recency effects play out smoothly. The human memory has a short activity/attention span. It is worthy of note that marketers and most industries take advantage of the recency effect because it will bring a positive response to their ads. Marketers ensure that their ads’ beginning and end give an appealing and positive tone/ vibe. This way, they’re sure of meeting as many customers as possible. The middle information is somewhat irrelevant in the recency effect because it is hardly remembered.
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Factors that Influence the Recency Effect
So far, we have given a clear explanation of the recency effect, why it occurs, and how it happens. Through a few examples, we have illustrated the recency effect, so we are positive that you have a substantial view of the primacy and recency effects.
Let us focus on the factors that can influence the likelihood of the occurrence of the recency effect. The factors explained below are a few of the other factors that may exist. Here are the factors that impact this effect:
- Timing: This has turned out to be one of the major factors that influence the effect in so many ways. Timing is crucial when dealing with the recency effect. With long timing involved during the recollection of a list, the effect is said to be influenced. If a participant elapses for an extended period in the midst of a rehearsal and recall, the possibility of the recency effect being eliminated or reduced is relatively high.
- Interference Tasks: This happens when the participant is presented with another form of information or task after the first one they memorized. With this interference, the participant will be unable to remember the first material they were given to memorize. According to research, if the intervening tasks last longer than 15 to 30 seconds, the recency effect will be eliminated if the participant tries to recall the original information given.
- Processing factor: This deals with the way and manner in which an individual attends to and processes the information that has been presented to them. This is because the process of assimilation affects how the information is recalled.
- Tasks factor: This has to do with the tasks which have been assigned to you; it also deals with how the information given is processed. Along with this, the length of the information you receive and the manner it was presented to you can influence/ affect the recency effect. If you’re presented with a short listing of words, it is likely that you find the words simple enough to recall them. This way, you would be eliminating the recency effect. On the other hand, if you’re presented with a lengthy listing of words, it is likely that you would create the recency effects.
These factors are a significant influence on the recency effects; they also have the ability to eliminate the effect in different ways. Timing helps us understand how long timing and short timing period can either make or eliminate the recency effect. If the interference lasts longer than 30 seconds, the effect will be eliminated. Elimination is set to happen again if the task factor occurs.
What Impact Does this effect have on learning?
With this effect comes a different impact; it plays a vital role in our assimilation and learning process. On the verge of learning new things, individuals are likely to remember some of the things they studied first; this is a result of the primacy effect. They are also expected to remember most of the things they learned last; this is a result of the recency effect. This goes to say that when this individual is tested on the material which they studied, the likelihood of forgetting things learned in the middle is quite high.
Nonetheless, there are various things that you can become accustomed to with regard to your study periods. This is to make the most of the many memory phenomena. To get a positive outcome from the recency effects, structure your time of the study. Pay attention to your attention span; you will discover that your prime learning periods are at the beginning and at the end. With this discovery, you would know how much time to put into a study.
To become more productive as you study and learn new things, try out the steps outlined below:
- Take advantage of the primacy effect during your study by focusing on only the most crucial information at the beginning. You might have to review important terms and put your mind to learning new information. Please do not take this period lightly, as it would determine how much you’re able to learn and recall within a short period.
- In the middle of your study time, it is best for you to read through any old report/material or things you have learned before. This type of learning will be more of a rehearsal of vital terms or revising the new terms you just learned in your material at the beginning. Use this period wisely because it would help you recall most things in the middle of your study.
- The last part of your learning session should be used to review all that you have learned at the beginning and in the middle. You can start by rehearsing those vital terms and reading through the new material you learned. This last part helps you recall and commit to memory all that you have learned at the beginning and revised in the middle. Pay attention here!
The steps above are set to help individuals stick all new information to their memory. They are also set to reduce any chance of forgetting the newly learned information from the beginning and the middle. Try your best to practice this form of learning; focus on the middle part as that would help make the last part easy.
Instructors and teachers should take advantage of this recency effect while teaching and passing information in the classroom. This would help maximize the classroom study time and promote retention. The most important information should be passed at the beginning part of the class. This implies that you would have to leave out attendance taking, welcoming of students, and some administrative exercises for the time being.
In the middle part of the class, teachers can take out a brief time out of the study session to attend to those activities that should be done at the beginning of the class. At the end of the day, say about 15 to 30 minutes to the end of the course, teachers should revise the essential lessons and terms that have been learned.
Recency effects play out in our day-to-day lives, but we are left unaware of the fact. The role of this effect shows in what you learn, practice, revise and recall. Now that you know what the effect entails, you can be able to maximize every opportunity you have to improve your memory span.
The first thing you should do is break up your learning periods into shorter forms; this way, you would spend less time on a material. Understanding and recollection would be so much easier. Towards the end of your study sessions, spend the last 20 to 30 minutes revising important information. You can rest assured that whatever you learn in the last part of your study session will stick – the recency effect proves this.
To ensure that a particular piece of information sticks and remains in your memory, present that information to them at the end of your discussion. Whatever you say to that person is sure to stick and stand out.
This can be applied in your day-to-day conversations and communication with people around you. You can also use it when you want to convene your idea to your boss at work, persuade a client about your services/product, or during interviews. As much as first impressions matter a lot, last impressions or parting words carry the same effect.
What is an example of a recency effect?
Recency effects tend to remember most recently presented information better. In particular, when one is trying to memorize something, a list is less difficult to remember because of the recency factor.
What causes the recency effect?
High performance in the middle gives the curve. How does recency affect people? Participants can also remember a few words they read. Participants will record these words.
What are the primacy effect and recency effect?
Primacy effects involve a process of re-enacting something until a person enters the logical memory. A human brain can remember seven items if the memory is short.
What is the recency effect in the psychology quizlet?
Recency effects tend to show more excellent memory for information that came first. The effects of serialization; individuals tend to remember the first and last items on the lists.