Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Zeigarnik Effect

I heard an interesting discussion on the No Stupid Questions podcast yesterday talking about closure. Specifically, something called the "Zeigarnik" effect (in an episode called Do You Need Closure?). The idea is that people more easily remember unfinished tasks than tasks that they have completed. 

Apparently, this brain mechanism extends to emotions, too. The idea is that our feelings linger — whether they’re positive feelings, like joy, or negative feelings, like frustration, when we don't get a complete understanding of what caused them. Obviously, this sucks on the negative side, and is why you should always talk things out when you are frustrated with someone.

But what about positive emotions? I'm making a bit of a jump here, but I can imagine it's related to why people are drawn in by wonder and mystery. Especially in a story or RPG session (though maybe in research, too). In the beginning, we don't know what's going to happen, why it happens, or what the consequences will be. 

But maybe thanks to the Zeigarnik effect, we are drawn in by the mystery, exploring it until we discover all there is to see.

Photo by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash

Just like Minerva, here in scene 2 of Chapter 7 of my latest Patreon novel. In the last scene, she decides to make an early dive into the Nightland (like, at 9 am) to learn more about someone who's done her dirty.

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