Graeme Newell

The Primacy Effect

Why do most of us tend to pick A and not B? It’s because our brain gets caught in a bit of a TRAFFIC JAM. When I threw choice A at you, your brain instantly got busy analyzing. But your tired brain wasn’t done processing choice A, when all of a sudden, choice B comes barreling down the line. Because your brain was still preoccupied with A, B never really got your full attention and consideration.

When our brain gets RUSHED, it tends to go with what’s familiar and easiest to process. In this case, that was choice A.

Why do we tend to pick B when we have ample time to consider? That’s because of RECENCY BIAS. This is our tendency to prefer the option we considered most recently. It’s the OPPOSITE of the Primacy Effect.

When we have lots of time to explore an option, we start forgetting the details of the option we considered previously. The choice most vivid in our brain just feels like the better option. This is Recency Bias.

It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but both Recency Bias and the Primacy Effect operate on the same mental foible…our lazy brain’s hatred of thinking about multiple things at once. Both biases will have our brain voting the choice that requires the least mental energy.