# Generation Effect

#### By Ben Ambridge

29.06.2018

Let’s do a little maths quiz on your times tables. What is 6 x 9? I’m not going to say it – you have to say the answer out loud. Or – if you’re watching this on your phone on the bus – at least say the answer to yourself in your inner voice. OK, now I’m going to do one 7×8=56; 3×7=21.

What was all that about? This is all to do with a psychological effect that was first reported in 1989 by two Psychologists called Robert Crucher and Alice Healy. And it’s called the generation effect. What they did was essentially what I’ve just done with you. They gave participants a series of simple sums – for some they gave them the answer, and for some, the participants had to work out the answer themselves.

And what did they find? Well, what did you find. Can you remember the answers to the sums that I gave you a few seconds ago?

If you’re like the participants in Crucher and Healy’s famous experiment, then you will have remembered the answer you generated yourself (45, or – if maths isn’t your strong point – whatever incorrect answer you gave), but you won’t have remembered the answers that I worked out and gave you on a plate: 56 and 21.

There are a few different ways for you to put this generation effect to work on your site. One way, for example, is by allowing customers to customise their products. This is going to make the products more memorable, and it also makes use of something called the labour-love effect or the IKEA effect (basically that you value something more if you’ve had to put work into it).

But if this isn’t feasible for your particular site, then you can ask your visitors questions. In fact, often when you see questions on a site, they’re there for exactly this reason. The site owner isn’t necessarily going to use the answers – it’s just that if participants come up with their own reasons why they might buy from a particular site, they will find them more persuasive than reasons that other people have given them.