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The Effect of Primacy and Recency on Recall

Participants in Scott’s study were asked to view 16 adverts of which the presentation order was randomised. The findings of this study showed that recall of adverts within the positions 1-3 were recalled most consistently (primacy effect), similarly with positions 13-16 (recency effect). Recall of adverts in the middle of the series was less consistent (positions 7-9). However, he, alike with Glanzer and Cunitz (1966) found that if recall was delayed, the recency effect disappeared.

Following the results of Scott’s study, it was suggested that the most effective time to broadcast a television advertisement is at the beginning of the block, as his results implied that it is at this time when the advert will have greatest impact on the viewers’ memory.

Formulation of Aims: To investigate the effect serial position has upon recall of magazine advertisements.

To discover if primacy and recency both play a part in recall of adverts i. e. are STM and LTM utilised when recalling information of this nature.

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I have adapted Scott’s (2005) study by allowing participants longer to view the adverts. I have decided to do this to ensure participants have sufficient time to view adverts and to eliminate the chance that participants forget certain adverts as a result of lack of time to view the adverts rather than a result of primacy or recency effect.

I expect to find that adverts at the beginning (positions 1-4) and the end (positions 13-16) of the block of adverts will be recalled most, in comparison to the adverts in the middle (positions 5-12) of the block.

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Directional Hypothesis: Products from adverts at the beginning (positions 1-4) and end of the block (positions 13-16) will be correctly recalled significantly more often than adverts in the middle (positions 5-12) of the block.

I have identified this directional hypothesis because other studies have shown that information in the primacy and recency positions increases the likelihood of its recall. Null Hypothesis: The serial position of adverts in a block of 16 will have no effect on recall of the products from these adverts. Method Experimental design: This experiment was a laboratory experiment as it eliminated the risk of confounding and extraneous variables affecting the results.

For example, controls were put in place to reduce the chance of the participants’ concentration being interrupted. Other advantages of this method are that the experiment was more reliable as the controls ensured it was replicable and cause and effect can usually be claimed by using this method of testing. Although, the disadvantages are that laboratory experiments can be criticised for not being valid as the controls make it unnatural and it is usually only the independent and dependent variables that are examined; other variables are rarely taken into account.

This experiment utilised repeated measures design as it was the most valid design to use because individual groups design was not possible due to the nature of the experiment (all participants saw a beginning, middle and end of a series of adverts). Another advantage of this experimental design is that fewer participants are needed which would make the group more manageable; it also reduced the risk of participant variables. For example, some participants may have better memories than others.

However, disadvantages of this experimental design include the introduction of order effects. For example, participants may be better or worse at the task due to practice or fatigue. Counterbalancing, however, can prevent order effects from becoming a big problem. Counterbalancing was put into effect by differing the order of presentation of the adverts and ensuring the adverts were collected from a variety of sources (participants were asked to recall the products in the order they believed they were presented).

This reduced the risk of some adverts being recalled more or less due to their distinctiveness. Independent and dependent variables: In this experiment the independent variable was the serial position of an advert, either at the beginning and end or middle of a block of 16. The beginning and end of the block are defined as positions 1-4 and 13-16. The middle of the block is defined as positions 5-12. The dependent variable was how many products were recalled successfully by participants, out of the potential 16 adverts.

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The Effect of Primacy and Recency on Recall. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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