Relative importance of prior and immediate events: A causal primacy effect

Two experiments tested the hypothesis that prior causes in a chain of events are attributed greater relative importance than later, more immediate causes. In Exp I, 170 undergraduates judged the relative contributions to success or failure made by members of a team who initiated a problem-solution process vs team members who terminated it. In Exp II, 206 undergraduates rated the importance of prior and immediate causes of 4 life events. In both experiments, prior events in a causal chain were perceived to be more important than were immediate events. In addition, Exp II showed that this primacy effect was due to the causal rather than temporal sequencing of events and that it was limited to situations in which the events were of approximately equal relevance to the final outcome. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)