April 24th, 2012

So, it turns out that the Zeigarnik effect [uncompleted tasks and unmet goals tend to pop into one’s mind, first described by and named after Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik] is not, as we assumed for decades, a reminder that continues unabated until the task is done. The persistence of distracting thoughts is not an indication that the unconscious is working to finish the task. Nor is it the unconscious nagging the conscious mind to finish the task right away. Instead the unconscious is asking the conscious mind to make a plan. [Emphasis in the original. JH] The unconscious mind apparently can’t do this on its own, so it nags the conscious mind to make a plan with specifics like time, place and opportunity. Once the plan is formed, the unconscious can stop nagging the conscious mind with reminders. p. 83-84

From Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney


Found in my electronic chapbook.

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