Primacy Effect can be described as the ability to remember or recall the initial items in a list of items. In psychology, it is an involuntary mental bias, due to which a person retains information presented first more than the ones presented later on. Primary effect often affects the decision making process at organizations.
Mr. X joined an organization recently. On his very first day at the office, his supervisor Mr. Y saw him playing games on his phone.
X had not been assigned any work, so in his idle time he was playing on his own device without disturbing anyone around or ignoring any task. But Y, in his mind had already branded X as the employee who plays games at work hours and thus is not serious enough about the work assigned to him.
This perception of Y’s on X may later reflect upon his appraisal reports even if X turns out to be good employee.
Below are a few situations at workplace which are affected by Primacy Effect:
• Recruitment: During recruitment, an interviewer is expected to observe and evaluate a number of prospective candidates. His evaluation process can be diluted by the primacy effect. He may start judging the candidates by their first impressions. E.g. A candidate who is nervous in the first few minutes of an interview can be judged by the interviewer to be the type who cannot handle pressure
• Performance appraisal: The first impression of an employee may have a long lasting effect on the manager’s mind. This can turn out to be both ways good and bad. This perception may not be easy to shake off and may result in faulty appraisal.
• Team performance: Teamwork can also be effected by primacy effect. The first impression of a new team member can create a preconceived notion about them among the rest of the team members. This too can work out both ways good and bad.