Recency and Central Tendency Biases Connected In Working Memory

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Recency and Central Tendency Biases Connected In Working Memory

When it comes to decision-making, our memory plays a significant role in influencing our choices. Two common biases that affect our decision-making processes are recency bias and central tendency bias. These biases are closely connected with how information is processed and stored in our working memory, leading to potential errors in judgment and decision-making. In this article, we will explore the relationship between recency and central tendency biases in working memory, their impact on decision-making, and strategies to mitigate their effects.

Understanding Recency Bias

Recency bias is a cognitive bias that leads individuals to give more weight to recent events or information when making decisions. This bias occurs because information that is more recent is more easily accessible in our working memory, leading us to overvalue its importance compared to older information. For example, in a job interview, a candidate’s most recent accomplishments may overshadow their overall qualifications, leading to a biased hiring decision based on recent events rather than a comprehensive assessment.

  • Recency bias can be particularly prominent in situations where information overload or time constraints force individuals to rely on the most readily available information.
  • One study found that stock market investors often exhibit recency bias by placing more emphasis on recent market trends rather than historical data or long-term performance.

Central Tendency Bias and Working Memory

Central tendency bias, on the other hand, refers to the tendency for individuals to gravitate towards average or midpoint values when evaluating information. This bias can arise in situations where individuals are uncertain or lack sufficient information to make a decision, leading them to default to the central or average option. In working memory, central tendency bias can manifest as a preference for information that is neither too extreme nor too mild, as it falls within the comfort zone of our mental processing.

  • Central tendency bias can impact financial decisions, as investors may be more inclined to choose moderate-risk investments rather than high-risk or low-risk options due to the perceived safety of the middle ground.
  • In hiring processes, central tendency bias can result in the tendency to rate candidates as average performers, even if their qualifications vary significantly from the midpoint.

Connection Between Biases in Working Memory

Recency and central tendency biases are closely connected in working memory, as they both influence how information is stored, retrieved, and used in decision-making processes. When faced with a choice, individuals may prioritize recent information due to recency bias but also lean towards average or moderate options due to central tendency bias. This dual influence can result in skewed decision-making that may not accurately reflect the full range of available information.

  • Research has shown that individuals with higher working memory capacity may be less susceptible to biases like recency and central tendency, as they are able to hold more information in mind and make more holistic evaluations.
  • Neuroscientific studies suggest that these biases may be linked to specific regions of the brain responsible for memory encoding and retrieval, highlighting the intricate connection between cognitive processes and decision-making biases.

Mitigating the Effects of Recency and Central Tendency Biases

There are several strategies that individuals can employ to mitigate the effects of recency and central tendency biases in decision-making processes:

  • Seek out diverse sources of information to balance out the influence of recent events and average tendencies.
  • Take time to reflect on past experiences and outcomes to counteract the tendency to overemphasize recent information.
  • Consider multiple perspectives and opinions when evaluating options to reduce the impact of central tendency bias.


Recency and central tendency biases are interconnected phenomena that can affect decision-making processes through their influence on working memory. By understanding how these biases operate and implementing strategies to mitigate their effects, individuals can make more informed and balanced decisions that reflect a comprehensive assessment of available information. By acknowledging the role of working memory in shaping biases, we can strive towards more objective and rational decision-making that considers a broader range of factors.

The relationship between recency and central tendency biases in working memory
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