Zeigarnik Effect

We tend to remember unfinished tasks better than completed ones.


The Zeigarnik Effect is a psychological phenomenon that suggests people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. Named after Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, who first studied the phenomenon, it implies that incomplete tasks create a kind of mental tension that improves recall. This can be applied in various fields, such as education and project management, to enhance productivity and learning by structuring tasks and breaks effectively.


  • Students are more likely to remember the contents of a study session if they take a break in the middle, leaving some material unfinished until they return.

  • Cliffhangers in TV shows and books exploit the Zeigarnik Effect by leaving the audience eagerly anticipating the resolution in future episodes or chapters.