“Peak End Rule”


In healthcare we often see birthing moms selectively forgetting many painful labor details…and replacing them with delivery of an awesome baby… positively tipping the memory scales… this example ofpeak–end rule is a common bias where folks judge an experience largely on how they feel at its peak and end rather than averaging every moment of the event… peak–end rule primarily occurs when an experience has a clear beginning and an end…as its total extent.

Deciding on what past moments are worth recall… depends on heuristics… processes where our mind uses decision shortcuts to prevent any impending disappointing fall. Take the fable of the tortoise and the hare… If the hare is to fully enjoy a hard earned future victory… he’s compelled to remember the ACT of racing was largely fun not the HURT of a past loss history.

Awesome endings like grand finale fireworks capping a mediocre display are sure in our memory to last… as do exceptional desserts after a celebration with an ordinary repast. Comfort comes in perceiving experiences as powerful and true… when we reshape happenings based on their peak and end creating memories we want to replay and view.  Negative experiences associated with medical procedures, for example, can be managed by firmly creating a positive peak and end for our brain… through longer procedures with endings where patients feel decreased pain

Making experiences cool by taking advantage of the peak end rule means managing crowning moments and saving the best for last… while allowing the majority of our memory’s recall to be effectively masked. When it comes to peak end rule… it is a Funny Feeling to know… like the fable of the tortoise and the hare… where slow and steady wins the RACE… It’s the highlight and ending… that our memory… always gives first PLACE…

Copyright Alan P. Xenakis, MD, Doc X MD and Audra RN Funny Feelings©  Air Date February 21st 2019

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