Apps Engineered to Deliver Hits of Dopamine
It’s no secret that people seem addicted to their mobile devices. It turns out that this is no accident as industry leaders have taken gamification to new levels – ensuring that users will get a constant drip of dopamine pleasure from each interaction.
Gabe Zichermann, cofounder and CEO of Onward, explains that “these new economy juggernauts, like Facebook and Google, aren’t merely in the business of selling ads to interested people based on compelling content they offer. They use content generated by others, layer that with engaging algorithms, and make their business about getting as much user time as they possibly can.”
“In this way, companies like Facebook have created an addiction economy. If your product or service isn’t as compelling as Facebook, it eats your lunch — regardless of what industry you’re in. “
While there’s nothing new about companies working hard to encourage repeat customers – what makes the current wave of tech addiction particularly powerful is that way in which companies can run thousands of online tests in order to determine precisely how to get users hooked.
“While you might be able to use willpower to resist the KFC Double Down, Facebook’s algorithm actually uses your willpower against you, running hundreds or thousands of tests against billions of users to identify what drives the most engagement.”
To combat this highly engineered tech addiction, Zichermann created an app that helps people limit their addictions. While it may seem counter-intuitive to create an app to cure addiction to apps, results so far have been encouraging. “We’ve had some early success at helping people get control of their tech overuse (89% of users reduced their usage in one of our trials). But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
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To read more about how Gabe Zichermann is working to address the forces at play in today’s addiction economy, please visit Business Insider.