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Issue #30 - The Peak End Rule 🏁

Here's a great mental model that is fitting for the last post of the year: The Peak End Rule! 🧠
Mental Models Weekly
Issue #30 - The Peak End Rule 🏁
By Mental Models Weekly • Issue #30 • View online
Here’s a great mental model that is fitting for the last post of the year: The Peak End Rule! 🧠

What is The Peak End Rule?
Whatever happens at the peak moments and at the end moments of an experience has a disproportionate impact on how the experience is stored as a memory. This is know as the peak end rule.
In other words, we judge experiences based on the intense or peak moments and the end moments, rather than taking into account every single moment of the experience.
There’s a memorable study often used to illustrate this phenomenon. Researchers asked patients to rate pain intensity in real time during a colonoscopy. Here’s some sample results.
Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Figure-Patientsassessments-of-pain-experienced-during-colonoscopies-Adapted-from_fig1_306072206
Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Figure-Patientsassessments-of-pain-experienced-during-colonoscopies-Adapted-from_fig1_306072206
Patients were later asked about the total pain of the procedure. Which patient do you think made a judgement of higher total pain - patient A or B?
It was A! Even though it was a shorter procedure with less total pain, you can see that patient A had higher peaks overall and a higher end.
Patients “judgments of total pain were strongly correlated with the peak intensity of pain” and “with the intensity of pain recorded during the last 3 min of the procedure”.
Why is this interesting?
The peak end rule is worth keeping in mind. Maybe you take it into account when you deliberately design in peak moments and endings to things, whether that be your vacation or a product experience or a process of some kind.
Maybe it’s as simple as changing the order of your meeting agenda to handle the more “painful” agenda items earlier, rather than at the end!
I’ll leave you with a bit of Shakespeare
We must away; Our wagon is prepared, and time revives us: All’s well that ends well;
Image by Picudio
Image by Picudio
Want to go deeper?
🎥 Daniel Kahneman talks about the remembering self vs the experiencing self, well worth watching
The riddle of experience vs. memory | Daniel Kahneman
The riddle of experience vs. memory | Daniel Kahneman
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✨Happy New Year, but also Happy Peak End to 2019 dear mental modelers! 💛
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