Welcome back to Fresh from Jake’s Mind Lab, where we explore the fascinating intricacies of human psychology and how they can impact various aspects of our lives. Today’s journey begins with a real-life story that highlights the power of the recency effect.

The Recency Effect in Action: A Tale from the Couch

Like many, my wife and I enjoy binge-watching movies and TV shows from various streaming networks. What sets us apart, perhaps, is our penchant for creating “mastermind” groups within our family. These groups serve as forums to discuss the latest and greatest shows and movies everyone in the family has watched, effectively curating a familial queue of must-watch content.

One night, we received a call from our daughter, who was eager to know the latest recommendations. Despite having indulged in countless remarkable films and series, the best we could offer was the last one we watched and a single additional option. It was a perfect real-life example of what psychologists call “The Recency Effect.”

Understanding the Recency Effect

The Recency Effect is a cognitive bias that gives greater prominence to the most recent information we encounter. In simpler terms, people tend to remember and prioritize what they’ve seen or heard last. This phenomenon influences our decision-making, memory retention, and overall perception of information.

In our family’s case, the most recent movies and shows we had watched had eclipsed the others in our memory. They dominated our recommendations simply because they were fresh in our minds. This raises a crucial question: How can we use the recency effect to our advantage in areas like training and development?

5 Ways to Harness the Recency Effect to Increase Retention

1. Prioritize the Most Important Information First: When conducting training sessions, lead with the most critical information or skills participants need to grasp. By presenting key concepts at the beginning, you leverage the recency effect to ensure that participants remember and prioritize this essential knowledge.

2. Recap and Reinforce: Throughout training, periodically revisit and recap the key takeaways. Emphasize these points again toward the end of the session. This repetition capitalizes on the recency effect, reinforcing the information and making it more likely to stick.

3. Interactive Learning: Encourage active participation and engagement during training. Interactive exercises, discussions, and group activities not only enhance learning but also create memorable experiences. These interactions, especially when placed toward the end of the session, benefit from the recency effect, enhancing participants’ retention.

4. Visual Aids: Incorporate visuals, such as charts, graphs, and multimedia content, strategically throughout your training materials. Visual information tends to be more memorable, and by coupling it with key points, you increase the likelihood of participants recalling and applying the information.

5. Post-Training Resources: Provide post-training materials that participants can reference after the session. These materials should include a summary of key takeaways, resources for further learning, and a clear call to action. By delivering this valuable content after the training, you capitalize on the recency effect, reinforcing the information and motivating participants to apply what they’ve learned.


The recency effect is a cognitive phenomenon that profoundly influences our memory and decision-making processes. By understanding how it works and strategically incorporating it into your training and development efforts, you can enhance the effectiveness of your sessions and ensure that participants retain and apply the most critical information.

So, whether you’re recommending movies from your couch or delivering a training program, remember the recency effect. It’s a potent tool that can help you leave a lasting impact on your audience’s minds.

That’s it for this week’s Fresh from Jake’s Mind Lab. Jake out <mic drop>