When people in laboratory studies sample products in a sequence, they tend to prefer options presented first and last. To what extent do these primacy and recency effects carry over to real-world settings where numerous sources of information determine preferences? To investigate this question, we coded archival data from 136 actual whisky tastings each featuring seven whiskies. We analyzed people’s ratings of whiskies featured at different serial positions in the tastings. We found a recency effect: people gave their highest rating to whiskies in the last position, and voted the last whisky as their favorite more frequently. This recency effect persisted when we controlled for the counter explanation that whiskies with higher alcohol content tended to occupy later serial positions. The recency effect also persisted when we controlled for the age of the whiskies. Taken together, our findings suggest that the order of presentation matters in real-world settings, closely resembling what happens in laboratory settings with longer sequences of options.
Quigley-McBride, Adele, Gregory G. Franco, Daniel B. McLauren, Antonia Mantonakis , and Maryanne Garry. “In the Real World, People Prefer their Last Whiskey When Tasting Options in a Long Sequence” PLoS ONE 13(8) (2018): 255-264. Print.
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