The Goldilocks principle is based on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. The story is about a little girl, Goldilocks, who enters the home of a bear family, and uses their stuff till she falls asleep.

As Goldilocks explored the personal items in the bears’ home, she noticed that the child bear’s possessions seemed to be the best fit for her. For example, the father bear’s mattress was too hard, and the mother bear’s mattress was too soft.

But the child’s mattress was just right – comfortable. Goldilocks was drawn to the child bear’s items because it was “just right.”

The Goldilocks principle is about presenting your audience with the “just right option” and staying away from the extremes. Let’s take a look at how you can use this principle to attract, engage and retain your audience.

What is the Goldilocks Principle?

The Goldilocks principle states that people prefer having the “just right” amount of something to having too much or too little of it. It is often used to describe people’s inclinations to choose the middle ground for things like their drink’s sweetness, room temperature, task difficulty, and more.

The idea is that people feel most at ease and satisfied when things are in balance and not too extreme. It’s similar to the phrase “meet me in the middle,” which refers to the idea of finding a middle ground between two opposing viewpoints or positions.

Organizations leverage the goldilocks principle by offering a variety of products or services that appeal to different market segments. They also use it to strategically develop comparative subscription plans by grouping customers into three major segments – premium, standard, and bargain hunters.

So, brands appeal to customers willing to pay a higher price for more features and services, as well as those looking for a more affordable option, by providing three options: a premium version, a mid-tier version, and a basic version.

The premium plan has many benefits, which may make it expensive for many people. The basic plan barely scratches the surface of what customers want.

As a result, many customers prefer the mid-tier plan because it offers an excellent balance of features and price. It offers the customer essential features and services without being prohibitively expensive or overly basic.

The Goldilocks principle is used in the classroom to ensure that students receive the right amount of information without becoming overwhelmed. It also moderates the length of classes; it should not be too long or too short.

Implications of the Goldilocks Principle

There are different effects of applying the Goldilocks principle for business and learning, we’ll be concentrating on its effect on learning:

  • It Makes Content Digestible

Using the Goldilocks principle allows you to create easily digestible lesson plans that help students to acquire the right amount of knowledge or skills in a class.  Lesson plans should not bombard students with too much information, but should provide just enough to pique their interest.

Students may struggle to understand what is being discussed if the class is too long or contains very complex information. Also, if the class is too easy or too short, it may be difficult to keep the class engaged.

The optimum class length and content keep your students engaged without overwhelming them with information, allowing them to learn effectively.

Read: Classroom Management Techniques for Effective Teachers

  • Helps Understand Your Audience

The Goldilocks principle can help you design lesson plans that are tailored to your students’ specific needs and abilities. You can start by creating to determine which topics your students are most interested in, which are very challenging, and which are extremely simple for them.

Knowing what your students struggle with enables you to create lesson plans that effectively break the topic down into digestible chunks they can understand.

  • Prevents Intellectual Fatigue

Regardless of how fascinating a topic is, not all information on it is needed by your students. Applying the Goldilocks principle as an educator allows you to carve out the necessary information and leave out the rest.

You could include the additional information as resources for students to use later. Writing down your lesson objectives is one of the best ways to determine if the information is relevant to your lessons.

The lesson objectives will help you determine whether or not the lesson content is relevant. This keeps you from overloading students with information, which can lead to cognitive fatigue.

  • Helps You Pick the Right Topics

The Goldilocks principle can help you select the right number of topics for your course. This enables you to achieve your learning objectives and focus on the information that students need.

If you’d like to see how well your lessons implement the Goldilocks principle, collect feedback from students. It will help you find out if you spend too much time on certain topics and not enough time on others.

  • Moderately Interactive Classes

An interactive class helps students learn more effectively, but it can backfire if the interaction is not managed properly. For example, long off-topic discussions can distract students if interactions are not managed.

You can plan short breaks between classes for focus groups, Q&A sessions, or pop quizzes. As a result, students are engaged during classes because they can express their opinions while learning.

  • Resource Library

Educators can use a resource library to help students gain a more in-depth understanding without overwhelming them with information in a class. This strikes a balance between the amount of information in the classes.

By leaving out some information and providing additional resources for students to explore on their own, educators can help students learn at a pace that is comfortable for them.

Examples of the Goldilocks Principle

Here are some everyday examples of the Goldilocks principle:

  • Temperature

Most people prefer a room temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. The same is true for food – most people prefer food that is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right.

Of course, there will always be people who prefer things that are outside of the norm, but the Goldilocks principle focuses on the majority’s preferences.

  • Decision-Making and Tasks

Having too many options to choose from can be frustrating, so most people prefer specific options to endless options. Also, most people feel coerced when they have little to no options.

Also, most people prefer tasks and activities that are neither too easy nor too difficult. Extremely difficult tasks can be exhausting and frustrating, whereas incredibly simple tasks can be demotivating because they don’t require little to no effort.

  • Exercise

Most people prefer an exercise routine that is “just right” for their fitness level and goals. A routine that is too easy will not allow them to meet their goals, but if it is too intense, they will become frustrated and will give up.

How To Apply The Goldilocks Principle Ιn eLearning

  • Figure Out Who Your Audience Is

The first step in creating courses that are comprehensible, challenging, and interesting to keep students’ attention is to find out what their interests are and what they find difficult. You can use surveys, interviews, diagnostic assessments, and other methods to determine what your students find difficult, the ideal class length, and more.

The survey data can also help you better understand your learners’ backgrounds, so you know how much knowledge they have of the course and how you can build on it. A design course, for example, may be easier to understand for people who have a background in art than for those who don’t.

  • Be Clear and Concise

When creating course content, focus on what you want to achieve with the course to avoid getting off track. When there is too much information, students may become disoriented and fail to recall the key takeaways.

Make sure to include the key information that learners must understand to achieve the learning objectives.

For example, if your learning goal is to pass on enough knowledge and help students develop enough skills from classes to solve real-life problems, avoid distracting them with interesting facts that have no impact on their contribution to the world.

The Goldilocks principle is not intended to encourage you to give the bare minimum; rather, it is meant to help you find a balance. You can add information to the resource library if you believe it is important to know but does not align with the learning objectives.

  • Include Interactive Sessions

Interactive activities provide controlled disruption, allowing students to learn more quickly and express their opinions.

Short breaks for pop quizzes, focus groups, and Q&A keep students from having very lengthy classes. It also ensures that students highlight the key takeaways from the class.

  • Create Challenging Assessments

When creating assessments, make sure they are challenging enough to get students to use their knowledge from class to figure out a solution, but not so complicated that they frustrate students.

Extremely difficult assessments cause learners to lose interest in the assessment because they can’t figure out how to solve them. Also, giving learners incredibly simple assessments prevents them from applying the knowledge they gained from the class.

  • Add Open-Ended Questions

Asking open-ended questions in class helps elicit insightful responses from students; pop quizzes do not allow them to fully express their opinions.

Start the class with an open-ended question about the lesson; this will pique the students’ interest and make them eager to learn.

You can also do it the other way around by asking at the end of the class. This will indicate whether or not the students understood what was taught in class.

It also promotes relevant interaction with the class, allowing students to share their perspectives on the course.

  • Create Knowledge Docs

Create a library where students can delve deeper into a concept and be referred to real-life examples. Giving students more resources allows them to learn more about the subject on their own time.

This keeps the students engaged in the learning experience and prevents you from overloading them with information during class.


The Goldilocks principle can help you develop effective lesson plans by balancing class length and difficulty. It also enables you to understand how your students learn and their pace.

  • Moradeke Owa
  • on 8 min read


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