The US Experience Since 1945
Chapter 5: Primacy, Recency and the US Immigrant–Trade Relationship
5. Primacy, recency and the US immigrant–trade relationship The notion of primacy effects and recency effects comes from the field of psychology. Simply put, given an ordered sequence of items, individuals are more likely to recall the early and later items in the sequence rather than the middle items. A simple way to think of this is that the remembrance of the early items involves long-term memory while recall of the later items involves short-term (perhaps ‘echo’) memory. The primacy effect refers to the remembrance of the impressions made by items early in the sequence, while the recency effect refers to the remembrance of impressions made by items at the end of the sequence. If plotted in x–y space with the probability of recall on the y axis and the order in which items are presented along the x axis, a parabolic relationship would be traced out in which recency effects would account for the left arm of the ‘U’ and primacy effects would account for the right arm. In short, the impressions of items vary according to when each occurs within the sequence. When considered in the context of the US immigrant–trade link, the influence of immigrants from countries generally afforded entry preference prior to 1968 may represent a primacy effect while the influences of immigrants who were largely discouraged or not permitted to immigrate to the US until 1968 may represent a recency effect. Building on this notion of primacy and recency effects, it is...
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