The Pollyanna principle (also called Pollyannaism or positivity bias) is the tendency for people to remember pleasant items more accurately than unpleasant ones. Research and common sense indicates that at the subconscious level, the mind has a tendency to focus on the optimistic; while at the conscious level, it has a tendency to focus on the negative.

The old tradition of getting a lolly, or these days, a sticker when a child goes to the dentist or doctors is a simple example. For a child, going to the dentist is sometimes daunting or a bit intimidating but leaving the practice with a shiny new scratch-and-sniff sticker is the only part of it they’re likely to remember with accuracy. Related is the peak-end principle. When recalling an event (e.g. staying at a hotel), our memory gives more weight to how we felt at the event’s peak, and how it felt at its end. Here is a great example.

Magic Castle Hotel Popsicle Hotline

The Magic Castle hotel in LA is a pretty average (well less than average) looking hotel in LA, however It ranks #5 out of 357 hotels in LA…how? You see that red phone in the photo? Pick it up and you are speaking to the popsicle hotline, who will deliver popsicles direct to your sunlounger on a silver platter, free of charge. Whilst you stay, send unlimited laundry to be cleaned and it’s returned wrapped up with a sprig of lavender, free of charge.

Cost / benefit wise, these are cheaper than a refurb, but deliver the little pollyanna moments that disproportionately give a positive memory of your stay.

By James Kay

Senior Account Director