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More On The “Zeigarnik Effect”

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I’ve previously posted about the Zeigarnik Effect (see What Is The “Zeigarnik Effect” & How Did I Apply It In The Classroom Today?).

It basically means that once we start doing something, we’re going to tend to want to finish it.

Scientific American recently ran a piece on it. I was particularly struck by this portion of the post:

Zeigarnik ascribed the finding to a state of tension, akin to a cliffhanger ending: your mind wants to know what comes next. It wants to finish. It wants to keep working – and it will keep working even if you tell it to stop. All through those other tasks, it will subconsciously be remembering the ones it never got to complete. Psychologist Arie Kruglanski calls this a Need for Closure, a desire of our minds to end states of uncertainty and resolve unfinished business. This need motivates us to work harder, to work better, and to work to completion. It adds impetus to minds that may otherwise be too busy or oversaturated to bother with the details. In other words, it ensures that those orders will stay in the waiters’ heads until it is certain that your food will hit the table as promised.

The “Need For Closure” got me thinking about having students use the reading strategy of “asking questions.” It seems to me that this desire might be one reason why that reading strategy is so effective…..

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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