Recollection twice as strong for unfinished tasks than finished tasks

Neuro Usability Insight #15
“Unfinished tasks are remembered approximately twice as well as completed ones.” – Zeigarnik

According to the Zeigarnik effect, people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. Showing which tasks are incomplete will increase the likelihood that the task will be completed. We get an uncomfortable feeling of tasks that are not yet complete. Think about seeing all your unread e-mails or WhatsApp messages you still need to answer. Applications As a marketer you can remind people of the incomplete tasks. Examples of applying the Zeigarnik effect are:
  • Adding a red circle on the part, for example your account or shopping cart, when there is still an unfinished task. (See the example).
  • Visually indicate when a task is incomplete, by marking the unfinished part of a progress bar.
  • Let people read only the first few paragraphs of an article or the first few pages of an e-book then stop the text before revealing the most valuable information. People want to finish the text and are more likely to buy the article or e-book in comparison with the situation were they didn’t read a part of it yet.
unfinished tasks neuro usability insight #15

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