The primacy and recency effect

In neuropsychology experiments, research participants were asked to douse their hands in ice water for extended periods. Psychologist Dr. Daniel Kahneman called the experiment results the Peak-End rule – that our perceptions about an experience are determined by how it feels at its most intense, and how it feels at the end. The actual duration is irrelevant. It appears we don’t rationally calculate each moment of pleasure or pain using some kind of mental ledger. Instead, our memories filter how we feel about the things we’ve done and experienced, and our memories are defined more by the moments that seem most characteristic – the start, peaks, and the finish – than by how we actually felt most of the time during the experience. The theory has been applied to both positive and negative experiences, including relationships.

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Embolden Psychology
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