The easy addendum effect: When doing more seems less effortful

Edward Yuhang Lai (Corresponding Author), Julio Sevilla, Mathew S. Isaac, Rajesh Bagchi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Although people often value the challenge and mastery of performing an activity, their satisfaction may suffer when the tasks comprising the activity are perceived as difficult. Thus, it is important to understand the factors that influence subjective judgments of difficulty. In this research, we introduce an easily actionable and effective tactic to reduce perceptions of the overall difficulty of an activity: We find that concluding a sequence of difficult tasks with a few easy tasks can decrease perceived difficulty of the aggregate activity. While appending extra tasks to a constant sequence should increase the objective amount of effort necessary to complete all the tasks, we find that more tasks can paradoxically be perceived as less effortful. We coin this phenomenon the easy addendum effect and demonstrate that it is less likely to occur when an overall activity is conceptualized as consisting of a single category rather than two distinct categories-that is, a set of difficult tasks followed by a set of easy tasks. We further show downstream consequences of this effect-through lower perceived difficulty, the easy addendum effect can lead to greater satisfaction, persistence, and more tasks performed overall. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2040-2052
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume108
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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