How technology creates addictive behaviors. #Facebook #Twitter #Snapchat #Instagram

Nir Eyal writes about how tech products are designed to create new habits in people. There are four key elements:

1) Trigger 2) Action 3) Variable Reward 4) Investment

Wired explains, — The Trigger

“You’re sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon, feeling lonely and wondering if everyone else had a better weekend. Your phone buzzes with a Facebook alert: You’ve been tagged in a photo taken at the party you went to on Friday. You log on to Facebook to check it out.”

The Action — Prompt users to share a tweet, like a photo, or follow a person.

Variable reward —

“Rewards can come in an almost endless variety of forms, from receiving attention, acceptance, and appreciation (an obvious force in social networks) to gaining a sense of mastery and autonomy (thank you videogames and Words With Friends) to prizes like money and gift cards. One of the most powerful methods to amp up the anticipation and ultimate effect of a reward, B. F. Skinner found, is to make it unpredictable. A classic example is slot-machine gambling. The player never knows whether the next pull might bring a $5 win or a $50,000 jackpot. The unpredictability of the reward—and the randomness of its arrival—is a powerful motivator to pull the lever again and again.”

Investment — Get the user to create content. “what behavioral economist Dan Ariely calls the Ikea effect: Contribute to the creation of something and you value it more” E.g. Wordpress gets people to start blogging 🙂

Conventionally, we agree that any addiction is unhealthy. Should we be concerned about Internet addiction, Facebook addition, and other gaming addictions?

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