What is the Zeigarnik Effect? – The Psychology of Design (6/7)
Zeigarnik Effect: Incomplete tasks hold in people’s minds. They will continue thinking about them over and over again.
Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found in 1927 that waiters retain orders just as long as the order remained in the process of being served.
When we hold multiple things in short-term memory, we have to drill them in continuously, otherwise, we forget. This demands a lot of cognitive load and the more information we are trying to remember the more effort.
Our brains have a trick into remembering only those things which are incomplete. Waiters remember unpaid orders. However, after the completion of the task (being paid), they were unable to retain any details of the order.
The Zeigarnik Effect is also very well applied by TV shows. The episode ends, but the story doesn’t. Therefore, you get stuck in a cliffhanger! If you start working toward a goal and fail to get there. Thoughts about it will keep rising in your mind while you are doing other things. As if to remind you to get back on course to finish reaching that goal.
Zeigarnik Effect is good method designers should use to make users finish uninteresting tasks. LinkedIn uses this trick to make users complete their profiles. It holds to reason that if you give potential clients motivation to finish a task, whether it’s a signup process, an online purchase, or profile filling.