Are you a saver for the last too? Most of the people think they save the dessert to the last just so the last taste left in the mouth is sweet but there’s a simple effect to explain the main reason for this: Peak-End Effect.
In order to understand this effect, try to remember your last coffee or meal. How was it? Was it good or bad? When answering the question, you try to remember the whole experience in a glance but your brain only considers two things: the peak of the emotions and the end of the experience. If we were to draw a graph showing how our emotions change over time, the one for a good coffee meeting with a friend would look more or less like the one below.
According to the effect it only takes a couple of second to evaluate the experience because we only look at the peak and the end. To test this effect, a group of subjects were given a medical procedure which consisted of a group of subjects putting their hands to a bowl of 14 C water for 60 seconds -this number is marked as a dangerous water temperature for swimmers by the National Center for Cold Water Safety and it hurts a lot!- while another group put their hands to a bowl of 14 C water for 60 seconds too but at the end the temperature of the water was increased to 15 C and they waited for another 30 seconds. At the end, the subjects were asked to evaluate their experiences.
Shockingly, overall, the second group had to experience the pain for a longer period of time but evaluated the experience better than the first group. The reason for this shocking result is that the second group had a more elevated end of the graph which was a reduction in the amount of pain. So technically, people generally remembered the procedure as less painful than they actually experienced because the pain towards the end was reduced independent of how long they were exposed to the pain.
This, in fact, is called “Duration Neglect” and actually explains why we save the dessert for the last. We tend to neglect the actual duration of the experience and end the meal at a more elevated point than the beginning in order to perceive the meal as a good one as a result of peak-end effect and duration neglect combined.
Independent of how bad your meal was overall, a nice dessert will make you remember it as a good one and business administrators are well aware of this fact. Next time you end up with a smiling face in the cashier of a store, try to remember your time before you got there.
Written by Anastasia