What Is The Importance Of Interruption?

Can Interruption of a task, help us in the completion of it?


saniya Aamir

3 years ago | 3 min read

How many times have you been interrupted while doing something?

Imagine you are studying for a big exam. You have started that one chapter you feared the most. Just as you are about to finish the second last line, your mother calls you for dinner. You reluctantly leave, but it is constantly on your mind. So, After the dinner what do you do?

Naturally, you would start from the exact same word you left at previously, put the two halves together and everything would make sense.

That's the power of incomplete tasks.

Somehow you remember an interrupted tv show or a half read line better than if it had been completed.

But why is that?

The Zeigarnik Effect:

Photo by Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash

In 1927, Bluma Zeigarnik, who was a Lithuanian psychologist, investigated the power of interruption on memory.

She came up with this idea after her professor Kurt Lewin observed how the waiters in cafes seemed to remember incomplete tabs better than those that had been paid for.

This led her to believe that the completion of a task causes it to become forgotten somehow.

The Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

She later tested the hypothesis in an experiment named “On Finished and Unfinished tasks” where she asked the participants to complete several tasks who were continuously interrupted by their supervisors.

However, as a control, some of the tasks were allowed to be completed uninterrupted as well.

After the experiment, each of the participants was asked to recall everything they were asked to do, and just as Zeigarnik has expected, most of them were able to remember the ones that were interrupted better than the ones that were allowed to be completed.

How our memory works:

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This explains how our memory works. The more you study and revise for an exam, the better you achieve. It is the same for everything else.

Rehearsal of information enables its retention.

When we are completely focused on the fulfillment of a task and it gets interrupted, our brain doesn’t let it go that easily. We are constantly thinking about it. We are going over the next steps, about what was supposed to come next, before we were interrupted. And it stays with us until we actually finish it.

How to remember details:

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Can you apply this Phenomenon in your everyday life?

Memorizing details is always hard, whether you are in high school learning biology or an adult memorizing a simple phone number.

According to the Zeigarnik theory, all you have to do is avoid doing it in one sitting.

Take a brief look at what you intend to memorize, familiarize yourself with it and then look away. This being the Interruption.

Take a walk, think about something else or just scroll through your Instagram. Then you return back to it and read the rest of it. Once you have memorized it, piece the two together (the part before and after the interruption) and it will all start to make sense.

The Zeigarnik effect suggests that students who suspend their study, during which they do unrelated activities (such as studying unrelated subjects or playing games), will remember material better than students who complete study sessions without a break

How The Zeigarnik Effect is Being Used Today:

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Whether it is a Facebook video or one on Youtube, we find the Zeigarnik Effect being implemented all around us today.

Just before the most essential part, a reveal, or just the end of the video an advertisement pops up. On one side it helps the advertiser promote their business as it is that crucial part of the video, where the viewer is just going to wait and watch the complete Ad instead of closing it altogether.

On the other hand, it benefits the owner of the video as well as it creates a kind of curiosity in the viewer, urging him to continue watching, just to find out what happens next.

This article was originally published by Saniya aamir on medium.


Created by

saniya Aamir

A dentist who loves to write







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