The Mystery of the Ziegarnik Effect!

The Mystery of the Ziegarnik Effect!

The Ziegarnik effect is the authority of uncompleted business and activities on our minds!

Despite the popular belief that the brain can be used only up to its 10% capacity—an idea largely propagated by pop culture references—the brain doesn’t have any working capacity, and its capacity can be unlocked through experience by an individual.

What is the Ziegarnik effect?

Ziegarnik effect definitions say that it is the power of incomplete and interrupted tasks that holds more significance in our memory. Our incomplete activities leave a special mark on us that fades easily. The Ziegarnik effect can create a mental load in our minds and make us worry throughout the day or week while we carry out our other activities.

The human brain is a mysterious thing! It won’t be a silly thing to say that it has a mind!! Although it makes little sense, we can say that human consciousness has its own set of realities in its layers that separate us from our awareness.

Indeed, the mind can be trained to achieve innumerable things, but some things are still unexplained in our subconscious. The Ziegarnik effect is an example of this!

Bluma’s Ziegarnik effect and its origin!

The Ziegarnik effect was first uncovered by Soviet psychologist Bluma Ziegarnik. Bulma uncovered it as a phenomenon after famous psychologist Kurt Lewin noticed a server remembering payment details about unpaid orders but not the details about paid orders or whether everyone has paid.

After a series of experiments, Bulma pointed out that an unfinished task makes us worry and creates tension in our minds, which is linked to our memory. It won’t resolve unless the task is completed and taken care of.

What are some examples of the Ziegarnik effect?

The art of storytelling!

The classic example will be how cliffhangers are used in movies and novels. It’s a storytelling approach that deliberately twists a narrative or builds suspense to keep us engaged toward the end. Once we are engrossed enough, we won’t leave it unless the loose ends are tied and our questions have been answered.

The talent of multitasking!

Experts call multitasking a switch phenomenon because we constantly switch between one stack and another. But when the switch happens, our minds are already occupied with incomplete work, which builds tension while we are doing the other task.

The everyday struggle to fall asleep!

Struggling to fall asleep at 3 in the morning? Well, guess what the Ziegarnik effect might have to do with this? Since it is almost impossible not to think about anything by the time we have gone to bed and tried to sleep, our mind, away from distractions, tries to recall the details of all the incomplete things throughout the day. Even the small ones are enough to keep us preoccupied and worried.

Another example of the Ziegarnik effect can be imposter syndrome, if seen as having a negative impact on our minds.The Ziegarnik effect is linked with imposter syndrome in people when the overload task makes us evaluate ourselves negatively.Especially in people who strive for perfectionist mindset in their routine.

Surprisingly, the Ziegarnik effect can also impact relationships with your beloved!

How Ziegarnik affects relationships?

The way Ziegarnik affects relationships is in couples’ therapy. Communication and trust are the building blocks of any relationship, be it with your spouse, family, friends, or colleagues. A healthy relationship requires openly expressing feelings, either good or bad, to build trust and understanding. The Ziegarnik effect in relationships is used to understand how untold feelings and unfinished arguments cause resentment in relationships. Unresolved resentment keeps building and making you remember every tiny detail of an argument from multiple angles in your mind. However, because of the Ziegarnik effect, constant remembering can help us understand ourselves and allow room for self-reflection—what people have been and what could be said!

How to overcome the Ziegarnik effect?

Overcoming the Ziegarnik effect can be tricky, especially if you are someone who is perfectionist and goal-oriented. However, keeping a few things in mind would surely help to overcome the Ziegarnik effect:

Don’t obsess over your to-do list!

While a to-do list can save us a lot of time, especially if you have a busy schedule and you keep forgetting, obsessing over the strict time limit can be harmful. Think of a to-do list as a general outline of how your day will look. Set realistic tasks within an achievable timeframe. Use it to plan your day out, not constrain it!

It’s okay to forget!

Don’t stress yourself over completing tasks! It is okay to forget about something for a while to give your brain a break or rest time from the unnecessary overload. Reflecting on unfinished tasks later leads to more beneficial results.

Advantages of the Ziegarnik effect!


The Ziegarnik effect is an effective method for learning new things and boosting our memory. Think about studying for an exam and using your mind to go back and forth to learn and remember! After a while, you learn something new and recall your old work. This split method can be helpful when practiced regularly.

Marketing and advertisements!

Ziegarnik has a great advantage over ads shown on television or other forms of media. In an experiment conducted, people were shown some ads in half-length and some ads in full-length. The viewer remembered the advertisement that was interrupted in more detail than the ones shown at full length. This shows that our minds focus more on interrupted facts than on finishing things.

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