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The Peak-end Rule

Here is a dilemma:

1. Would you rather keep your hand in a container of water at 14 degrees Celsius (COLD!) for 60 seconds; OR

2. Keep your hand in a container of water at 14 degrees Celsius for 60 seconds, and then for an additional 30 seconds, put your hand in a container of water at 15 degrees Celsius?

When presented with this dilemma, almost everyone chooses option 1, assuming that option 1, due to the shorter duration in cold water, will be perceived as less painful. However, in practice, the experience turns out to be different. Daniel Kahneman, a famous economist and psychologist (and author of the book 'Thinking fast & slow') has tested the dilemma and his research shows that people would rather be exposed to pain for a longer time than to have more intense pain.

The memory of a certain moment or activity turns out to be more important than how you actually experienced the activity as a whole, and that memory is colored by the peak intensity of the experience at any given moment and the end. Daniel Kahneman has shown that the end of an experience is often the most memorable -- the recency effect.

What does this mean for us? To make a game (or training, meeting) truly unforgettable, it is extremely important to use intensity as a variable for the most important moments of an experience.

1. Create peak moments with higher intensity of experience. (recency effect)

2. Ensure an intense ending (peak-end-rule)

In the video below, Kahneman himself explains this phenomenon.

Would you like to know how we apply behavioral economics in our games? Get in touch!


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