The Completion Principle

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The Completion Principle

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Have you ever found yourself just itching to finish something? Whether it’s a puzzle, a story, or that last slice of cake… Your brain has a natural impulse to complete things – especially when they are just a couple steps from completion. This nerve is what drives humans even to get up in the morning, because something is just not done. It’s also what many advertisers and game developers take advantage of. For example, take the widely-known indie horror game, Five Nights at Freddy’s: The developer of the game has a very intricate backstory hidden in small details throughout the four games. He has given just enough information to figure it out, so people have torn the game apart to find every ounce of that information they can to complete the story – in the process, buying his game, giving him boatloads of money.

Now before we get off track here… If you find yourself stressing to finish something or to do a task extremely perfectly – don’t worry, you [most-likely] don’t have OCD (this principle even connects with perfectionism – not only must people have things done, but done correctly, and the part where perfectionism comes in is just what certain people’s standards are of “correctly”… NOT OCD). What is actually being put into play here is called – as redundant as the name may seem – the Completion Principle. The simple explanation from the listed source on the Completion Principle is this: we seek to complete that which is incomplete. Now there is more to it than that (it’s honestly a pretty broad statement), but in a general respect, that is just what this principle means to identify.

The reason that our brains are so strained to complete things is quite understandable… Being a species with a much higher intelligence than others, we also have the desire to be in control. When something is uncertain or unfinished, our minds feel like we’re not in control, thus we drive to achieve that position. Incomplete or uncertain things also keep your mind thinking about solutions or simply worrying about the consequences of not having it done. This distracts you from doing other things you might be trying to do. This is not too far from what KMS student Callie G. says: “They’d forget about it. Also, it [leaving things unfinished] gives them the feeling that they haven’t finished something important, haven’t done something right, or haven’t perfected something necessary. It gives them a sense of foreboding or incompetence.”

This basic [but potentially complex] principle, as stated before, can be used to many commercial advantages, or you could be reading this to ease your suspicion that you may be obsessively compulsive (which is funny because, in that case, the reason you were even reading this article is because of the completion principle itself). Though this might be quite annoying from time to time, it is the very reason that the technology/society we have today is so advanced.

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