Manufacturing guy-at-large.

The tyranny of the remembering self

Added on by Spencer Wright.

From Thinking, Fast and Slow:

Confusing experience with the memory of it is a compelling cognitive illusion - and it is the substitution that makes us believe a past experience can be ruined. The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience. This is the tyranny of the remembering self.

This shit is crazy. What would you prefer? To enjoy a thing, or to remember enjoying it? 

Kahneman's work suggests that these two things are in many ways opposed. If you prefer to remember enjoying an experience, you should consider two factors: 

  • Peak-end rule: The global retrospective rating was well predicted by the average of the level of pain reported at the worst moment of the experience and at its end.
  • Duration Neglect: The duration of the procedure had no effect whatsoever on the ratings of total pain.

...All of which is totally different from how we think we experience life. In designing experiences themselves, we tend to maximize duration and neglect both the peaks and the ends.

I would like to think that I would be self aware enough to overcome these tendencies, but in truth I think all I can do is try to design the things I offer into the world such that they maximize my audience's memory of me.