First impressions are lasting impressions: A primacy effect in memory for repetitions

Abstract

Two experiments demonstrated that the encoding of a repeated object is biased toward the attributes of its first presentation. In Experiment 1, subjects saw objects five times each, but either the first presentation or the fifth presentation was the mirror reverse of the standard orientation seen on the other four trials. When recognition was tested with both orientations simultaneously, subjects reported seeing only the single mirror-reverse orientation more often if it was the first presentation than when it was the fifth presentation, and seeing only the standard orientation more often if it was presentations 1–4 than when it was presentations 2–5. A second experiment demonstrated that this primacy effect generalized to size changes. This pattern of results is consistent with the hypothesis that top-down biases affect what subjects learn: The first representation established for a stimulus is likely to influence the encoding of subsequent repetitions.

References

  1. Ausubel, D. P. (1963).The psychology of meaningful verbal learning: An introduction to school learning. New York: Grune & Stratton.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Baylis, G. C., &Rolls, E. T. (1987). Responses of neurons in the inferior temporal cortex in short term and serial recognition memory tasks.Experimental Brain Research,65, 614–622.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Culler, E., &Girden, E. (1951). The learning curve in relation to other psychometric functions.American Journal of Psychology,64, 327–349.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Desimone, R., Miller, E. K., &Chelazzi, L. (1994). The interaction of neural systems for attention and memory. In C. Koch & J. L. Davis (Eds.),Large-scale neuronal theories of the brain (pp. 75–91). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Estes, W. K. (1950). Toward a statistical theory of learning.Psychological Review,57, 94–107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Goldstone, R. L. (1995). Effects of categorization on color perception.Psychological Science,6, 298–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Grossberg, S. (1987). Competitive learning: From interactive activations to adaptive resonance.Cognitive Science,11, 23–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hintzman, D. L., &Curran, T. (1995). When encoding fails: Instructions, feedback, and registration without learning.Memory & Cognition,23, 213–226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hintzman, D. L., Curran, T., &Oppy, B. (1992). Effects of similarity and repetition on memory: Registration without learning?Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition,18, 667–680.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hintzman, D. L., Summers, J. J., Eki, N. T., &Moore, M. D. (1975). Voluntary attention and the spacing effect.Memory & Cognition,3, 576–580.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Jacoby, L. L., Allan, L. G., Collins, J. C., &Larwill, L. K. (1988). Memory influences subjective experience: Noise judgments.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition,14, 240–247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Johnston, W. A., &Hawley, K. J. (1994). Perceptual inhibition of expected inputs: The key that opens closed minds.Psychonomic Bulletin & Review,1, 56–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Kanwisher, N., &Driver, J. (1992). Objects, attributes, and visual attention: Which, what, and where.Current Directions in Psychological Science,1, 26–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Piaget, J. (1952).The origins of intelligence in children. New York: International Universities Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Rao, K. V., &Proctor, R. W. (1984). Study-phase processing and the word frequency effect in recognition memory.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition,10, 386–394.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Rugg, M. D., Soardi, M., &Doyle, M. C. (1995). Modulation of event-related potentials by the repetition of drawings of novel objects.Cognitive Brain Research,3, 17–24.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Snodgrass, J. G., &Vanderwart, M. A. (1980). A standard set of 260 pictures: Norms for name agreement, image agreement, familiarity, and visual complexity.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition,6, 174–215.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Sokolov, E. N. (1963).Perception and the conditioned reflex. New York: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Tulving, E., &Kroll, N. (1995). Novelty assessment in the brain and long-term memory encoding.Psychonomic Bulletin & Review,2, 387–390.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Tulving, E., Markowitsch, H. J., Kapur, S., Habib, R., &Sylvain, H. (1994). Novelty encoding networks in the human brain: Positron emission tomography data.Neuroreport,5, 2525–2528.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gregory J. Digirolamo.

Additional information

This research was supported by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and Pew Memorial Trusts through the support of the Center for the Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention, and National Science Foundation Grant SBR-93-19265 to D. L. Hintzman. We thank Michael Posner, John Gardiner, Art Glenberg, William Johnston, and Roddy Roediger for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Digirolamo, G.J., Hintzman, D.L. First impressions are lasting impressions: A primacy effect in memory for repetitions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 4, 121–124 (1997). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03210784

Download citation

Keywords

  • Recognition Memory
  • Study List
  • Adaptive Resonance Theory
  • List Position
  • Standard Orientation