The effect states that an interrupted task, even without incentive, values as a "quasi-need". It creates intrusive thoughts, aimed at taking up the task again and possibly resulting into cognitive dissonance.
This can be explained by Kurt Lewin's field theory, which points that an interrupted action is a condition for a strained system. It also leads to a better remembering of the unfinished action over a vacant one (Zeigarnik effect).
- Ovsiankina, Maria (1928). Die Wiederaufnahme unterbrochener Handlungen (PDF) (in German). Psychologische Forschung. pp. 302–379. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2022.
- Lewin, Kurt (1936). Principles of topological psychology. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016.
- Lindorfer, Bernadette; Stemberger, Gerhard (1 February 2012). "Die Experimente der Lewin-Gruppe zu Struktur und Dynamik von Persönlichkeit und psychologischer Umwelt". Phänomenal. doi:10.23668/psycharchives.4389. Archived from the original on December 2012. Retrieved 2016-08-07 – via academia.edu.