1. Hello everyone, in today’s article, we will discuss the Zeigarnik Effect, which is a psychological term that is frequently encountered in our daily lives. We can define the Zeigarnik effect as a concept that states that people remember incomplete or interrupted activities more easily than completed ones. Let’s take a look at this psychological term.

This article includes “What is the Zeigarnik Effect?”, “How Was the Zeigarnik Effect Discovered?”, “Experiments to Understand the Zeigarnik Effect”, “Where the Zeigarnik Effect Is Used Today?”, “The Effects of the Zeigarnik Effect on Mental Health”. We will seek answers to these questions.

What is the Zeigarnik Effect?

Zeigarnik effect; A psychological concept that states that people remember incomplete or interrupted activities more easily than completed ones. So if you constantly feel like you’re leaving something unfinished, it may be because your brain is more selective about remembering unfinished business. In other words, when you start working on something but do not finish it, thoughts of the unfinished work continue to pop into your mind even when you’ve moved on to other things. Such thoughts urge you to go back and finish the thing you have already begun. It’s why you keep thinking about that page-turner. Or why you want to finish playing a video game until you win. Unfinished work continues to exert an influence, even when we try to move on to other things. In fact, to understand this situation, we need to learn how this topic was discovered. Let’s take a closer look at this title.

How Was the Zeigarnik Effect Discovered?

It was discovered by the Soviet psychologist and psychiatrist Bluma Zeigarnik as a result of observation in a restaurant. Zeigarnik realizes that the waiters remember the orders only during the service, and erase the order from their memory after the service is completed. Conducts studies and experiments on the subject. With his works; He reaches the conclusion that unfinished, unfinished works occupy the mind and when the work is done, the mind frees itself from this preoccupation. After this observation, Zeigarnik decided to experimentalize this situation.

Experiments to Understand the Zeigarnik Effect

Zeigarnik decided to test this hypothesis in an experimental setting and published his findings in “On Finished and Unfinished Missions” in 1927. In the experiment, he asked each participant to complete a series of separate tasks, such as solving a puzzle or creating a circle. . -package box. In about half of the tasks, the participants were subtly interrupted by the experimental supervisor, while during the remaining tasks they were given time to complete without interruption.

Following the experiment, Zeigarnik interviewed each participant, asking them to recall details of each task that they had attempted. The results were surprising but appeared to confirm Lewin’s initial observation of the effect of interruption on waiters’ memory retention.

Zeigarnik’s initial findings revealed that participants were able to remember details of interrupted tasks approximately 90% better than those who completed them undisturbed. (Zeigarnik, 1927). These results suggest that the desire to complete a task can cause a person to stay in memory until it is completed, and the certainty of its completion enables the forgetting process to occur.

If accurate, this supports our understanding of memory function, in that the active rehearsal of information enables its retention, whilst information that is not rehearsed is more likely to be discarded. This feature of memory rehearsal is key, for example, to Baddeley and Hitch’s Working Memory Model.

Where the Zeigarnik Effect Is Used Today?

In fact, today, the Zeigarnik Effect is very popular in many fields and has been widely used for many years.

The Zeigarnik Effect is an incentive and used to create a sense of continuation, leaving a plot interrupted by the end of the episode and the words “To Be Continued…” at the most exciting part of the series. people will watch the new episode wondering what will happen until the new episode comes. Also, due to this effect, the forgetting rate of the previous episode between the two episodes is markedly reduced. As a result, viewers actively remember the last episode until the next episode arrives and are motivating waiting for the next episode.

Another sector where the Zeigarnik Effect is used is the digital world. It is applied to increase engagement, increase the frequency of site visits, motivate people to complete a task, and keep people returning to products. To put it more clearly; News sites and blogs make extensive use of this effect by presenting large content in small chunks and showing some of it for real content. With instructions such as “…” and “more”, it indicates that the reader has not finished the content yet and is therefore of interest to the reader. Since this task is instinctively wanted to be completed, readers reach the actual site by clicking on these options, and the number of clicks on the sites increases.

Another example is getting people to fill out lead generation forms. In this case, instead of seeing the entire form as a single page at first glance, people complete the form with the help of the progress button. People are curiously going to the end of the form and more users can be reached thanks to the Zeigarnik Effect.

At the same time, an example of the Zeigarnik Effect is the method commonly used by some sites, to increase the desire to reach all the content by showing some of the desired content. In order for users to see the entire content, they direct them to membership or subscription with a certain amount of fee and thus increase their subscriptions.

The Zeigarnik Effect is also used by some authors. For example, the British writer Charles Dickens used this effect in his work Oliver Twist, and the readers who wondered what happened next continued the series.

The Effects of the Zeigarnik Effect on Mental Health

Although the Zeigarnik Effect can be applied positively, it can also have negative effects on mental health. When important tasks are left unfinished physically, there is a mental burden and this creates a constant urge to complete the task. Intrusive thoughts arising from this feeling; Stress can cause greater psychological problems, leading to anxiety, sleep difficulties, and mental and emotional exhaustion.

On the other hand, the Zeigarnik Effect can improve mental health by providing the motivation needed to complete tasks. The tension of the incomplete task, the fact that the problem does not leave the brain, and the indirect focus on the task can provide mental time and space, leading to a better and more comprehensive solution. Also, completing a task can give an individual a sense of accomplishment and increase self-confidence. Completing stressful tasks, especially those that are difficult to cope with, can induce a feeling that can improve psychological health.


In this article, we have extensively discussed The Zeigarnik Effect, which we frequently encounter in our daily lives, I hope you liked our article. See you in our next article. Take care. You can also find my article on Murphy’s laws here.

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