Understanding the power of the Goldilocks Effect

Paul Trenchard-Seys / the Short Bored Surfer

I have a passion for design patterns. I like to understand the reasons why certain patterns work and dislike using conventions without knowing why they have become successful.

Recently I’ve found myself interested in the psychology of persuasion and the ways in which certain techniques have infiltrated the web. One such technique is the “Goldilocks Effect”. I’ve been aware of it for a while but had only ever thought of it as just another design pattern and hadn’t necessarily thought to understand the psychology behind it.

What is the Goldilocks Effect?

The term ‘goldilocks effect’ derives from the children’s story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. In the story Goldilocks decides, amongst other things, to eat one of three bowls of porridge; the first being too hot, the next too cold, but the final one she picks for being “just right”.

This, in a nutshell, is what the term goldilocks effect or…

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