Help your Prostate Help You

Photo by Mukul Joshi on Unsplash

(This post contains an Amazon Affiliate Link to the Book Reviewed)

By knowing about the cognitive biases that rule our decision-making process, we can safeguard against negative outcomes and give our future selves a desirable way of life.

There is no better place to learn about these shortcuts and heuristics than in Daniel Kahneman’s mega bestseller: Thinking, Fast and Slow in which the Nobel Prize Laureate explores the link between the two systems that impact our thought process in a tour-de-force of modern behavioural science.

Below is a summary of the peak–end rule in one of my favourite studies. Its insights have guided countless of my decisions since learning it.

The peak–end rule

The peak–end rule dictates that an event is not judged by the entirety of an experience, but by representative moments (or snapshots). The memory of these snapshots define the perceived value of an experience. The idea is that these snapshots are actually the average of the most intense moment of an experience and the final moment of the experience. The peak–end rule applies only when an experience has a definite beginning and end.

The Study

“Patients’ memories of painful medical treatments: real-time and retrospective evaluations of two minimally invasive procedures” Redelmeier, Donald A; Kahneman, Daniel (1996)

The study assessed patients’ impressions of pain going through a colonoscopy or lithotripsy and took note of what level of discomfort they felt in real time as well as their remembered experience after. They found that patients tended to evaluate their level of discomfort based on the intensity of pain at the worst (peak) and final moments. This occurred regardless of length or variation in intensity of pain within the procedure.

Meaning that when the procedure lasted longer (by keeping the apparatus in longer after the peak) the patients would have a better memory of the event and would be more likely to book another appointment the following year.

What does that mean for me?

You can apply these findings in your daily life by making the final moment of an experience more pleasant and/or making the worst moment less worse. It’s a deceptively simple tactic that works wonders.



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