The "Recency Effect" Is Especially Pronounced In Children - An Important Finding For Researchers And Parents

Posted on July 2, 2019

When it comes to decision making, we are influenced by two effects – the Primary Effect and the Recency Effect. The Primary Effect refers to the tendency to remember what we hear first, while the Recency Effect describes how we are more likely to remember what we last heard. Although neither effect is more prominent in adults, research has shown that one of the effects rules over the other.

A study consisting of two experiments was carried out to investigate which effect has a greater impact in the decision-making process of children. The first experiment involved asking 24 toddlers questions where they have to make a choice between two options. The order in which the options were verbally presented to the children were swapped during the experiment. Results indicate that toddlers are more likely to choose the second option when answering verbally. When they were asked to point to their preference instead, they are less likely to select the second option. This shows that the Recency Effect is more prominent in children.

In the second experiment, toddlers were told to choose names for toys out of two choices given to them. The options given to them varied in length, where some names had more syllables. When the words are longer, the children tended to pick the second choice. This could be a result of limited working memory capacity in children, which results in the selection of the second option as it is more likely to remain in working memory.

The findings have provided a greater comprehension of how children make decisions, hence provide paths to developing new methods that will enable parents and teachers to have a better gauge of a child’s cognitive abilities.

Category(s):Child Development, Parenting

Source material from The British Psychological Society Research Digest