Peak-end effect

Hi,
I was struggling what to write about today but finally I looked into my notes where all previous ideas for posts hide and I decided to write about peak-end effect which is something I have read about months ago though even today I think about it as something really cool. (Uhh, one sentence)

Important cognitive bias!


I found peak end when I was reading the book Organized Mind (or was it in Thinking fast and slow?). There was experiment described:

There are people in experiment. For one minute they will put their hand into bucket of water with 10°C (which is pretty cold and it hurts).

After one minute they will warm they hand back and then it continues. Another minute in bucket of 10°C water and then 30 seconds in the same bucket but with temperature secretly rised to about 12°C (you can feel the difference).

Now they asked them if they would rather repeat the first part which means one minute in 10° or the second (1 minute 10° and 30 seconds 12°) (in the original experiment the temperature may be different)

Well what would you do? Both hurt but the second clearly hurts more because it is exactly same but with another 30 seconds in which your hand will get even colder. It is clear that anyone outside the experiment would choose the first option but most if not all subjects chose the second because of peak end.


As Kahneman says, the people chose the second one because they liked the memory of it better.

The mind tends to remember ends of events and also the peaks which means both up and downs. In the experiment people remembered that the water was a bit warmer in the END so they wanted to repeat it.

Of course you can transform this situation into your life. For example I often rate my life from 0-10 points, how much I am satisfied with what I am doing here. Now every time I do it I remember how much I am influenced by the last events, the END and how much by the PEAKS (bad and good school reports, girl relationships and so on).

So yes, I think that people often make statements by the peak-end rule saying things like “my life sucks” and so on though it can influence your life in the other way, so that you think everything is fine while it may not be.

Also remember that effects like this are used by companies. It is very easy for hotel or for some holiday organization to make your feelings better when they satisfy you in the end of your visit.

Dragallur