Imagine submerging your hand in 57-degree water for 60 seconds. Cold!
Now imagine submerging your other hand also in 57-degree water, also for 60 seconds, but now keeping your hand in the water for an additional 60 seconds during which the temperature was raised to a balmy 59 degrees.
You are now given the option of which test to repeat.
Which would you choose?
No brainer, isn’t it?
Can you guess the outcome of this study conducted by Daniel Kahneman (of Thinking Fast and Slow fame), Barbara Fredrickson, Charles Schreiber, and Donald Redelmeier?
The answer is more subjects chose the longer submersion because they preferred the memory of it better than the alternative.
Yelp, Elections and Colonoscopies
Why is that?
Daniel Pink in his book, When, cautions us to take Trip Advisor and Yelp reviews with a grain of salt. Reviewers don’t realize it but their experiences are skewed by the end of their meals and the end of their vacations.
Of course, we consider all four years of a president’s term when deciding whether to vote for a candidate again.
Nope. Research shows voters decide based on the election year economy.
And the colonoscopy patients…
Kahneman and team took a look at experiences of patients undergoing a colonoscopy.
One group of patients were subjected to a longer colonoscopy which ended less unpleasantly while the other group had a shorter one whose last moments were more painful.
Let’s allow Kahneman himself explain his findings:
He found that:
People judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.
This holds true for both pleasant and unpleasant experiences.
Psychologists call this phenomenon the Peak-end rule.
Take full advantage of the Peak-end rule if you work in a job which includes performance reviews.
Your boss will unknowingly give you more credit when you do these two things:
- Hit a homerun on one of your biggest goals (the peak).
- Finish the performance year really strong by submitting your highest value work at the end (the end).
As of this writing you are likely actively engaged in planning your goals. Consider how you can employ the Peak-end rule for maximum effect.
Intensely focus on knocking a key goal out of the park even if that means you can only meet expectations on some of your other objectives.
Also, plan to end the year with a bang by concentrating and delivering a big project when it counts the most!
The Bottom Line
There is a lot of psychological warfare going on in the corporate world, true? Why not fight fire with fire?
Use the Peak-end rule to score a better review and a bigger raise!
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