Social perception – Primacy recency | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy

– [Voiceover] I’m sure
you’ve heard of the term first impressions count. It’s because it’s a common line of thought that your first impression
is pretty important. And it’s important because it’s long, strong, and easily built upon. Now, what do I mean by each of these? Well, it’s long, so when a
first impression is formed, it tends to last a long time, whether it’s positive or negative. Two, it’s strong, so once someone has a
first impression of you, it’s pretty hard to overcome that. And three, it’s easily built upon, so this is a little bit more subtle. And what this means is that when someone has a
first impression of you, they will subsequently really kind of put extra emphasis
on bits of information that helps to support
that first impression. So if someone thinks
that you’re really messy, they may not put as much emphasis on the fact that your desk is tidy every single day afterwards. But if you’ve been in your room or something else is not quite right or your bin is overflowing, they may go, ah-ha, look, I knew it, that helps to support my first impression that this is a messy person. And when we think about first impression and the fact that it actually seems to be more important than other bits of data, it’s called the primacy bias. Now, that’s the first bit of data. Let’s think about other bits of data that might be useful. Have you ever heard the term you’re only as good as your last game? You’re only as good as your last match? You’re only as good as
your last cheeseburger? Well, what does this suggest? This suggests that your
most recent actions are also very important. And people will place a lot of emphasis on your recent actions and
your recent performance. And it appears that compared
to past performances, your recent performance may have some extra weight to it. This also has a name. And this is called the recency bias. So what I want to do is look at the graph at the bottom of the screen. And I want to label the axis. So the vertical axis is
going to be retention. And this is really talking about memory. And the horizontal axis is time. And this graph can actually
represent bits of data, as in some experiments have been done, they look at a certain sequence of items that somebody has to remember, or we can think about it as the social data that somebody
can obtain from encounters. And I’m actually going
to draw a graph for you. And what this graph
represents is the time periods in which we seem to
recall most information and the information seems
to be most important to us. And if we look at this graph and we think about, first
of all, the primacy bias, we see that the first chunk
of information that we get over here seems to be pretty important. And also later on, the
second chunk of information that we get, the recency bias, also appears to be pretty important. And in the middle we have a period of time which is of quite variable duration, given that this graph can apply
to lots of different events or a specific event. And the information
during this time period seems to be not as important as information that we have very early on or very recently. Even within this middle period if there was a significant event or something that’s really memorable, so for example, if the
person does something that elicits a prominent,
emotional response in you or is very unusual, you may very well have a blip and you remember that event much more, or if it’s a sequence of items that you’re trying to remember, in the middle of the items you see a picture of a close family member and all the other items
are fairly nondescript, you may have a big blip there. But in general, if all
the items are pretty much the items you’re going to
remember in a memory test are pretty much the same or the person’s events are pretty typical in a day-to-day basis, the earlier events that
we can see on this chart and the most recent events will be the most memorable for you. So it appears that when we form
impressions of other people, the most important parts
of forming an impression are one, the early
impressions that we form because they’re long, strong,
and easily built upon, and two, the most recent actions a person has done towards us. Everything else in the middle seems to be not quite as important. There was a bit of debate
whether the primacy bias or the recency bias is stronger. And I think it may very
well vary on the situation. And there’s no unanimous
verdict at the moment.

  1. Great video! Thanks a lot!
    You got a typo, though (I guess): you wrote "your" instead of "you're"

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