Zeirgarnik Effect

From Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Also see Interesting and Incomplete

In psychology, the Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik first studied the phenomenon after her professor, Gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin, noticed that a waiter had better recollections of still unpaid orders.

In Gestalt psychology, the Zeigarnik effect has been used to demonstrate the general presence of Gestalt phenomena: not just appearing as perceptual effects, but also present in cognition.

The Zeigarnik effect suggests that students who suspend their study, during which they do unrelated activities (such as studying unrelated subjects or playing games), will remember material better than students who complete study sessions without a break (Zeigarnik, 1927; McKinney 1935).

The cliffhanger effect is also deeply related to the study of Dopamine and online website behavior and conversion tactics. For more information on this topic, visit Theme Zoom.

Also see the work of neuromarketing expert and professional cult-deprogrammer / cult-creator Russell Wright


  • Baroni, R. (2007). La tension narrative. Suspense, curiosité, surprise, Paris: Seuil.
    * Baroni, R. (2009). L'oeuvre du temps. Poétique de la discordance narrative, Paris: Seuil.
    * Brewer, W. (1996). "The Nature of Narrative Suspense and the Problem of Rereading", in Suspense. Conceptualizations, Theoretical Analyses, and Empirical Explorations, Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    * Brooks, P. (1984). Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    * Gerrig, R. (1989). "Suspense in the Absence of Uncertainty", Journal of Memory and Language, n° 28, p. 633-648.
    * Grivel, C. (1973). Production de l'intérêt romanesque, Paris & The Hague: Mouton.
    * McKinney, F. (1935). "Studies in the retention of interrupted learning activities", Journal of Comparative Psychology, vol n° 19(2), p. 265-296.
    * Phelan, J. (1989). Reading People, Reading Plots: Character, Progression, and the Interpretation of Narrative, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
    * Prieto-Pablos, J. (1998). "The Paradox of Suspense", Poetics, n° 26, p. 99-113.
    * Ryan, M.-L. (1991), Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    * Schaper, E. (1968), "Aristotle's Catharsis and Aesthetic Pleasure", The Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 18, n° 71, p. 131-143.
    * Sternberg, M. (1978), Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction, Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
    * Sternberg, M. (1992), "Telling in Time (II): Chronology, Teleology, Narrativity", Poetics Today, n° 11, p. 901-948.
    * Sternberg, M. (2001), "How Narrativity Makes a Difference", Narrative, n° 9, (2), p. 115-122.
    * Vorderer, P., H. Wulff & M. Friedrichsen (eds) (1996). Suspense. Conceptualizations, Theoretical Analyses, and Empirical Explorations, Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    * Walton, K. (1990), Mimesis as Make-Believe, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    * Yanal, R. (1996). "The Paradox of Suspense", British Journal of Aesthetics, n° 36, (2), p. 146-158.
    * Zeigarnik, B. (1927). Das Behalten erledigter und unerledigter Handlungen. Psychologische Forschung, 9, 1-85.
    * Zeigarnik, B. (1967). On finished and unfinished tasks. In W. D. Ellis (Ed.), A sourcebook of Gestalt psychology, New York: Humanities press.

Personal tools