Law of primacy in persuasion

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In advertising and public communications, the law of primacy in persuasion as postulated by Frederick Hansen Lund in 1925 holds that the side of an issue presented first will have greater effectiveness than the side presented subsequently.[1] Lund gave college students a document in support of one side of a controversial issue and then presented a second taking the opposite position. He found the document read first had greater influence, regardless of which position it expressed.[2] This empirical evidence was generally accepted until 1950, when Cromwell published findings of the opposite: a recency effect in persuasive arguments that were considered statistically reliable.[3] However, when Carl Hovland and his associates published the now well-known The Order of Presentation in Persuasion, the systematic study of the primacy–recency problem began.[4] As considered by Rosnow:[5] "when an audience is presented with both sides of an issue which has the greater advantage the issue presented first (primacy) or the issue presented last (recency)".

A study published in the "Journal of Abnormal Psychology" found that the order in which the opposing arguments were presented, the time interval between them, and the time of testing for eight varied groups showed a recency effect that favored recency.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stone, Vernon A. (1969). "A Primacy Effect in Decision-Making by Jurors", Journal of Communication 19 (3), 239–247. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.1969.tb00846.x
  2. ^ "Primacy-Recency". ADV 382J: Fall 2001, "Theories of Persuasive Communication & Consumer Decision Making". Center for Interactive Advertising, The University of Texas at Austin. 2001. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  3. ^ Kohler, Christine. "Order Effects Theory : Primacy versus Recency". Center for Interactive Advertising, The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  4. ^ Hovland, Carl I., Wallace Mandell, Enid H. Campbell, Timothy Brock, Abraham S. Luchins, Arthur R. Cohen, William J. McGuire, Irving L. Janis, Rosalind L. Feierabend, and Norman H. Anderson. The order of presentation in persuasion New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957
  5. ^ Rosnow, R. L. (1966), WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE “LAW OF PRIMACY”?. Journal of Communication, 16: 10–31. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1966.tb00013.x
  6. ^ Miller, Norman; Campbell, DT (July 1959). "Recency and primacy in persuasion as a function of the timing of speeches and measurements.". The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 59 (1): 1–9. doi:10.1037/h0049330. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lund, Frederick Hansen. "The Psychology of Belief IV: The Law of Primacy in Persuasion," Journal of Abnormal Social Psychology 20 (1925): 183-91.