Peak End Effect and when to quit your job…

“We’re blind to our blindness. We have very little idea of how little we know. We’re not designed to know how little we know.”

-Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is Noble Prize winning psychologist, who has done lot of research in area of heuristics.

In 1993 he conducted some experiments, in one experiment participants were asked to dip their hands for 30 seconds in water whose temperature was 14 degrees, in another experiment participants were asked to dip their hands for 60 seconds in water whose temperature was also 14 degrees, but in second experiment, after 60 seconds, the temperature was raised by 1 degree and participants were asked to continue keeping their hands in water for another 30 seconds.

So first group was exposed to cold water for 30 seconds and second group for 90 seconds, but when they were asked to narrate their experience, second group found experience less painful than first group, though they were exposed to cold water for longer time.

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Kahneman attributes this to heuristics and calls it as peak end effect- people judge experiences largely based on how they were at their peak and at their end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience. Rise in temperature of water in end made experience less painful for second group.

Peak end effect has lot of applications in field of business, travel and tourism, medicine etc.  Those in hospitality industry must have experienced this effect. Bad time at airport while going home after perfect vacation creates unpleasant memories for ever i.e. end effect matters a lot.

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If you are planning to quit your job, you should quit your job when you are at your peak, it will leave pleasant memories about your tenure with that organisation. Since you always remember the end, leave when things are great. On the other hand if you leave organisation when you career has plateaued or you are stagnating, you will forever have bitter memories about that organisation.

 

 

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