“The ending and the highest peak of an experience, determine how we remember it”

The peak-end rule is our tendency, when judging an experience, to judge this experience (pleasant or unpleasant) almost entirely on how it was at it’s peak, as well as how it ended. Other information, while not lost, is not used in the qualitative memory of the event (i.e. extension neglect and duration neglect).

Scientific research example:

In a study with real patients, patients underwent a colonoscopy (a painful medical procedure). For Patient A, the pain was shorter, but more intense. Patient B experienced the same type of pain, but with 2 differences: B had no heavy peak, but experienced pain for a much longer time. Therefore, Patient B reported more pain than A during the procedure.

So much for experience.

Now, the memory of the experience.

When Patients A & B were asked days later how they remembered their colonoscopy experience (“how bad was it?”), their memory was reversed from the experience itself. Patient A remembered the procedure as being more painful than patient B.

A typical example of the Peak End Rule: “The climax and the end determine how you remember an experience.”

Online Persuasion tips:

  • Bring your ‘enlightening moments‘ from your sales dialogue together in one happy climax.
  • If possible, make sure that this positive peak is at the end of your sales dialogue.
  • Next, map all your service dialogues, micro-conversions, and other ‘exit points’.
  • Create small positive peaks there, too.
  • Use enticing extras, such as the good old ‘unexpected gift on your thank you page!’, or specific extras such as unlocking badges or access to exclusive content, games or apps.

Further reading on the peak-end rule: