Peak-end effect — never mess up the dessert when inviting guests over
If you are calling guests over for dinner tonight, make sure the dessert is perfect. You can go wrong with any of the other courses and it won’t matter as much. Why?
Because of the peak-end effect.
A group of subjects were made to dip their hands in water at 14 degrees Celsius for 60 seconds. Next, the same group were made to do the same 60-second routine, followed by 30 more seconds when the water temperature rose just a little to 15 degrees.
Seven minutes later, the group was given a choice: do you want the 60-sec routine or the 90-sec one?
What do you think they said yes to?
80% said yes to the longer punishment. 4 out of 5 subjects volunteered to subject themselves to 30 extra seconds of avoidable pain.
When judging an experience, we tend to average out how we felt at the peak and at the end. This happens whether the experience is pleasant or not. The duration of the experience doesn’t matter, only the peak and the end.
What does it mean for you?
👉If you’re a product manager, design an experience such that your customer experiences delight at the end.
👉If you’re a manager who has to show tough love to a reportee, end the conversation positively.
In 2002 Virgin Atlantic introduced these delightful plane-shaped salt and pepper shakers, Wilbur and Orville, that first-class passengers shamelessly pinched. I’m sure they got away with stale in-flight broccoli.
What we experience and what we remember of it are two different things. Is it just a coincidence then that even before science bore out this truth, we’ve had expressions like
Left with a bitter taste
Ended on a sad note
All’s well that ends well.
And that’s why do not mess up the dessert when having guests over.