Somewhere in 1967, British singer Cat Stevens wrote the song “The First Cut Is the Deepest”. Ten years later, another British singer, Rod Steward, drove the song to Number One on the UK singles chart with his own rendition. Even though the song explores the emotional impact of heartbreak and its lasting effects, the first cuts are mostly presumed to be the deepest. Ironically, everyone, both men and women, remembers their first love. First cut has a total recall effect and, to a certain degree, a primacy effect.
Fast forward to 1992, when American pop star Vanessa Williams released a song titled ‘Save the Best for Last’. The song portrays a young woman who admired a single man who stood by and watched her desires build up before he finally decided to initiate a relationship. The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks. Psychologists believe that ending with something exceptional can provide a sense of closure and recall experiences. Researcher Paul Hamme observed that people are more inclined to judge that it was the last basket, rather than the first, that caused the team to win the basketball game. A clear case of the recency effect.
The primacy effect’ is a psychological term reflecting people’s propensity to retain and recall information more clearly when it is given first in a list, sequence, or presentation, according to Glanzer & Cunitz (1966). It is also referred to as the “serial position effect.” It is argued that people recall and focus on the first things on a list. In any presentation, the initial few points are more likely to be remembered and have a greater effect on people.
The Recency effect, however, suggests that people tend to remember and be influenced more by information that is presented last compared to information presented earlier. Marathon runners save their highest energy for the last 100 metres. In the context of elections and ballot placement, the effect implies that voters might have a greater tendency to remember and consider the candidates they encounter last on the ballot after considering all the names presented on the ballot.
So, in the instance of the NPP special delegate conference, will positions on the ballot be considered a factor? In other words, could the positioning of the Hon. Kennedy Agyapong at number one and Vice President Dr. Bawumia at number ten serve as another example of primacy and recency effects in elections?
Mathematicians have the firm assumption that the number 1 holds several important properties and roles. Any number raised to the power of 1 remains unchanged. In operations of multiplication, the number 1 acts as the identity element, and any number multiplied by 1 remains unchanged. For example, 1 x 5 = 5, and 1 x 7 = 7.
As I was struggling with the mathematical significance of the number 10, a friend and mathematics lecturer took me through the Base-10 system, which uses ten digits (0–9) and place value to represent all numbers. The positional value of each digit is determined by its position relative to the decimal point. Sorry, if you don gerrit, forgerriit’.
The significance of being number one in politics can vary depending on the context. In many political systems, the number one position refers to the top leadership role, such as the President, Prime Minister, or Head of State. President Akuffo Addo is referred to as ‘C1’ in some quarters at the Jubilee House. Being number one often carries symbolic weight and represents power, influence, and prestige. It sometimes connotes a sense of superiority, supremacy, or dominance within the political landscape. Is Hon. Kennedy Agyapong carrying all these elements in the number one position?
In electoral systems, being number one on the ballot can have an advantage as voters tend to be more familiar with the top names listed. Some researchers believe that the primacy effect can influence election outcomes. In Ghana’s 2000 presidential election, Mr. Dan Lartey occupied the number one position with the Great Consolidated Popular Party. He lost, but some pundits believed that he would have lost terribly if not for his number one position on the ballot.
However, both the top and bottom positions have won elections in Ghana. The slogans ‘3soro ho’ and ‘Asie3 ho’ have all won elections in Ghana. More recently, “Yefano Fom won the bye election for Hon. Gyagye Quason in the Assin North bye election. The supremacy of primacy and the recency effect always come into play in our general elections.
Ahead of us is the NPP super delegate conference, where the very elite of the party structure are required to vote. These are members with a high sense of dignity, some of whom are required to teach other party members how to vote properly in any general election. Most of all, these are voters who have perused incisively the messages of all prospective candidates and taken into consideration the overall vision of the party, whose quest is to break the historic 8 in the 4th Republic. In this instance, it will be problematic if the primacy or recency effect gains significant traction in the elections.
Nonetheless, electors, super or ordinary, are individuals. Individuals whose voting preferences can be influenced by a multitude of factors.
Among them are the primacy and recency effects. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to observe critically how Hon. Ken Agyapong and Dr. Bawumia will exploit the psychological effects of primacy and recency, respectively, in the upcoming NPP super delegate conference. Meanwhile, Hon. Allan Kyeremanteng, Dr. Konadu Apraku, Hon. Boakye Agyarko, Hon. Joe Ghartey, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, Hon. Kwabena Agyapong, Mr. Kwadwo Poku, and Hon. Addai Nimo might look into the skies and whisper, Observers are worried’. And yes, indeed!
Source: Kwame Adinkrah | Broadcast Journalist