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Primacy Effect in First Impression

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Introduction

Katedralskolan Uppsala Katedralskolan, Uppsala IB School Code: 1291 Session: May 2007 Psychology SL Internal Assessment Primacy Effect in First Impressions - An experiment to investigate the effect of the order of words in a series on first impressions Zack Lindahl Session number: 1291-037 Word count: 1464 Date: 2006-10-12 Table of Contents Table of Contents..........................................................................2 Introduction.................................................................................3 Method......................................................................................4 Design................................................................................................4 Participants..........................................................................................4 Apparatus/Material..................................................................................5 Procedure.............................................................................................5 Results.......................................................................................6 Discussion..................................................................................8 Conclusion..................................................................................9 Bibliography..............................................................................10 Appendices..................................................................................i Appendix #1, Copy of Consent Form Used......................................................i Appendix #2, Copy of Questionnaire Used......................................................ii Appendix #3, Questionnaire Results.............................................................iii Appendix #4, Calculations of Tesults for Group 1..............................................iv Appendix #5, Calculations of Results for Group 2..............................................v Introduction This replication of a study researches cognitive psychology, information processing, within social frames. The concept that has the focus of the experiment is the primacy effect, which is a term for the tendency to attach more importance to the initial information that we learn about a person.1 There is a less common antithesis of the primacy effect called the recency effect, which gives more weight to recent information in cognitive abilities. However, in this experiment the primacy effect will be in focus. Solomon E. Asch (1946) showed in his experiment how the organisation of words in a series of traits that describe an imaginary person affects individuals in their overall impression of that person.2 Asch described a person to a sample group using a list of adjectives. ...read more.

Middle

Then they were informed of their right for withdrawal and were handed consent forms. A series of traits were read out loud to the participants that signed the consent forms. The traits were: Intelligent, hard-working, impulsive, critical, stubborn and jealous. Then the participants were given questionnaires that they filled in according to the instructions previously given by the researcher. The group was then vocally debriefed. The procedure was repeated with Group 2 at a later date, but the order of the traits in the series was reversed. The traits were: Jealous, stubborn, critical, impulsive, hard-working and intelligent. Results The results obtained from the questionnaires were calculated into percentage of total number of participants, as the two groups were not of the same size.5 The results were as follows: Graph 1, Percentage of participants in Group 1 who chose a trait Graph 2, Percentage of participants in Group 2 who chose a trait As the graphs illustrate there is a lesser percentage of traits marked in Group 2, than in Group 1. Table 2, Calculations of central tendency in %6 Type of Calculation (%) Group 1 Group 2 Median 28,95 13,05 Mode 15,8 0,00 Mean 36,84 27,05 The central tendencies (median, mode and mean) in Group 2 are smaller than those in Group 1. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stricter control over participant behaviour before the experiment would solve the problem, but that might cause ethical questions to arise. Slight bias might also be present in the experiment, as a questionnaire is used. Due to the nature of questionnaires there is a limited number of options available which therefore limits the response of the participants. However, the strength in the use of a questionnaire is that it is more probable to give a more thorough and workable result. If the participant would assign traits to the person themselves, they might not think of any. Therefore, the strength of the questionnaire is greater than its weakness. The major confounding variable in the experiment was the different number of participants in each sample group. Even though the problem was lessened by the use of percentage calculations instead of score it was not entirely eliminated, and did therefore have effect on the overall result. An equal number of participants in each group would make the result more valid Conclusion The sample group which heard the list of traits with positive traits placed first selected more traits on the questionnaire. The aim is reached, and it can be concluded that the position of words in a series does affect the first impression people get of a person described to them, and the traits placed first in the list affects the entire impression. ...read more.

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