Back to resources

Three people experiencing the thrill of a rollercoaster ride

8. The Peak

Part of a short series on memory design

Denise Hampson
Thursday 30th June 2022

I talked earlier in this series about Daniel Kahneman’s work on the experiencing self and remembering self. He and his collaborators built the evidence-base for the bias we now know as the Peak-End rule. This rule explains that a person’s memory of an experience is stored based on two key parts of that experience – the most emotionally intense moment - the peak of the experience (or the trough if it’s a negative one) - and then how it ends.

Go back to your memories of your last vacation. The moment you jump to first will be the peak. “We had a huge thunderstorm”, "It was scorching hot so hanging out by the pool was the best" or “They decorated the table for our anniversary dinner” or “We went to this incredible old cathedral.” Or it could be the trough, “We got sick” or “The bus broke down on the way back to the airport and we nearly missed our flight.”

Ever wondered why theme parks take a photo of you at the highest, fastest, scariest part of a ride?

I said before that there are two of us going through life; the experiencing self, and the remembering self, but actually there are three of us. There’s also the sharing self, who walks behind the remembering self, selecting only the best polaroid images from the memory banks, applying a couple of filters to them and posting them online on Facebook or Instagram or tiktok for others to see.

I mean, if a customer has an incredible moment of personal transformation in an experience that you designed and there’s no one around to share it with… did it make a sound? Did it even happen at all?

How can you help customers capture and share the peak, the best bit, of their experience?