10 Ways Technology Hijacks Your Behavior


From push notifications and reminders to rankings and rewards packages, know-how has the ability to nudge you to assume and act in particular methods at particular instances.
Addictive design retains you hooked, algorithms filter the concepts and choices you’re uncovered to and the information path you allow behind comes again to hang-out (or goal) you later. The digital world is filled with options and adverts that will trick you to undertake beliefs, purchase merchandise or simply stare on the display longer.
These methods can have good intentions: A health app would possibly encourage you to run an additional mile, whereas a calendar alert would possibly remind you of an enormous assembly. Other instances, tech would possibly distract you from essential duties, spending high quality time with family members or actions that might serve your finest pursuits.

Read on for 10 methods know-how is hijacking your conduct, for higher or for worse.

1. It beckons.
Anyone who has a smartphone is aware of that it may be troublesome to disregard that buzzing, beeping, incessantly illuminated display, even in conditions when it detracts out of your presence, corresponding to in conferences or on the dinner desk.
App makers push notifications to get customers to interact. That’s why, for example, Instagram tells you when somebody you comply with has posted for the primary time shortly, luring you to open the app and have a look.

One of right now’s most distinguished activists working to boost consciousness about tech’s affect over our consideration, conduct and general well-being is Tristan Harris. He previously served as product thinker at Google, and he’s the co-founder of the Center for Human Technology (and the Time Well Spent motion).

In one essay, Harris explains that smartphones and the apps that run on them resemble slot machines of their design. As a outcome, the common particular person checks their cellphone 150 instances a day, typically unconsciously, and that’s as a result of, once they do, they're setting themselves as much as obtain a “variable reward.” They would possibly get nothing -- no new notifications or messages -- or they could get a hyperlink to a humorous meme from a pal, a photograph of a child or information of progress on a challenge they’re engaged on.
There’s additionally an obligation issue that drives the impulse to test private units: We would possibly miss one thing essential if we don’t, or we would offend somebody by not responding rapidly sufficient or reciprocating a gesture.

2. It takes up psychological house.
Even once we’re not our telephones, and we’ve made a acutely aware effort to disregard them, corresponding to turning off notifications and ringers or powering them off totally, they nonetheless can distract us.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, the University of California, San Diego and Disney Research not too long ago performed a research and located that when an individual’s smartphone is close by -- on the desk and even in the identical room -- that particular person’s efficiency on a cognitive process (requiring problem-solving and reasoning) will doubtless undergo.
The diminished means is akin to what sleep deprivation would possibly trigger, the researchers discovered, noting that folks carried out finest on duties when their cellphone was in one other room and worst when their cellphone was on the desk, whether or not the cellphone was on or off.
In a abstract of their findings in Harvard Business Review, the researchers clarify that “humans learn to automatically pay attention to things that are habitually relevant to them, even when they are focused on a different task.” Ignoring one thing that’s calling to your consideration takes lots of effort and consumes your consideration. Just consider a time whenever you had been engaged on one thing and somebody known as your title from throughout the room. Chances are, you misplaced focus.

3. It alters your notion of your choices.
The web opens up an entire new world. You would possibly Google “cafes” and uncover a brand new lunch spot that you simply in any other case won't have identified about. You would possibly want a brand new pair of footwear, and reasonably than being constricted to the choices native brick-and-mortar retailers have to supply, you may choose from numerous pairs and have one shipped to your door.

Even although we theoretically have entry to what can appear to be each product, place of job and supply of knowledge through the online, we frequently browse these choices via platforms that filter them for us, to slender down the seemingly infinite array. What we don’t all the time take into consideration, Harris explains, is that we would miss an incredible possibility if we solely select from what an algorithm serves up.

Harris offers the hypothetical situation of a bunch of associates looking Yelp for a close-by bar to go to after dinner. “The group falls for the illusion that Yelp’s menu represents a complete set of choices for where to go,” he writes. “While looking down at their phones, they don’t see the park across the street with a band playing live music. They miss the pop-up gallery on the other side of the street serving crepes and coffee.”

4. It reinforces your beliefs.
The 2016 U.S. presidential election heightened public consciousness of an idea referred to as the “filter bubble,” coined by Upworthy co-founder Eli Pariser and explored in his 2011 guide The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think.

Simply put, the filter bubble is a phenomenon that happens with customers on-line. Of course, this dynamic exists offline, too -- we make associates who've related pursuits and ideologies, for instance. This would possibly restrict our considering, however can it affect our conduct?

A 2016 research revealed within the Croatian Medical Journal explored the results of filter bubble on the private well being info individuals noticed on-line. For instance, if somebody has a community of associates that don’t consider within the effectiveness and security of vaccinations, they is perhaps extra prone to search “vaccines and children” and obtain search outcomes that counsel vaccinations are harmful. This additionally has the danger of reinforcing any preconceived notions, resulting from affirmation bias.
“The search history, social network, personal preferences, geography and a number of other factors influence the information found by the searcher,” research writer Harald Holone wrote in a abstract of his findings.

Given the very fact there may be a lot info on-line, we could have the phantasm that we're uncovered to a spread of concepts when actually we’re constructing a digital echo chamber for ourselves. And because of the addictive nature of know-how, it’s troublesome to flee the filter bubble with out a acutely aware effort. Some individuals have actively tried to counter it by accumulating Facebook associates with opposing viewpoints and liking pages that don’t curiosity them.

5. It collects details about you that can be utilized to affect you later.
Related to the filter bubble idea, all net and social platform customers are accustomed to how focused promoting works. You Google one thing, search for a product on Amazon, put an merchandise in your digital procuring cart, browse flight reserving choices -- then, possibly hours and even weeks later, you see an advert for no matter you had been eyeing earlier.

It’s fairly clear what’s taking place right here: Sellers try to affect your determination to purchase. There are methods to get round this kind of concentrating on, from adjusting your Facebook settings to clicking on particular person adverts and specifying that you simply want to not see adverts of that nature. Or, you may set up an advert blocker to spare your self all collectively.

Increasingly, persons are nervous that their info is perhaps used for extra than simply promoting them stuff. In March 2018, information surfaced of an information breach that resulted in knowledge of about 50 million Facebook customers stepping into the arms of voter-targeting consultancy Cambridge Analytica. Because Cambridge Analytica had ties to the Trump marketing campaign previous to the 2016 election, some suspect that knowledge could have been harnessed to sway voters through focused political messaging.
Regardless of how the information was used, the revelation has prompted Facebook to crack down on third-party builders’ entry to person knowledge, make clear privateness settings and minimize off the usage of knowledge from third-party aggregators to complement its personal advert concentrating on.

6. It retains serving up the following factor.
Social media feeds permit customers to scroll endlessly, however that’s just one instance of the unending waterfall of knowledge that customers encounter on-line. After watching a video on Netflix, Facebook or one other website that hosts video content material, you’ll typically see a countdown with a preview of one other video that can autoplay after a number of seconds. This tactic serves to maintain you engaged and watching one thing new, even whenever you don’t intend to.

Even Entrepreneur.com autoplays movies after one finishes. Content creators and distributors naturally need you to maintain studying and watching. That’s additionally why now we have hyperlinks to different tales on article pages.

Usually, these choices are associated to the primary piece of content material a person consumed, algorithmically generated or hand-picked as a result of they're prone to be related to somebody based mostly on the content material they chose initially.

Some content material suppliers have discovered over time that there's a restrict to the effectiveness of autoplay, when it occurs proper out the gate. Overwhelmingly, customers reply negatively when movies autoplay (particularly with sound on) in the event that they haven’t but opted in to look at on say, a web page they’ve visited with the aim of studying an article. Many are transferring away from this mannequin, pushed by video promoting, which bombards customers and infrequently drives them away.

7. It shortens your consideration span.
"Ten years ago, before the iPad and iPhone were mainstream, the average person had an attention span of about 12 seconds," mentioned Adam Alter, the writer of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, in an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air. “Research suggests that there's been a drop from 12 to eight seconds ... shorter than the attention of the average goldfish, which is nine seconds.”

Alter is just not the one one to watch this phenomenon. Nicholas Carr, writer of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, preceded his guide with a 2008 Atlantic article through which he defined, “My mind now expects to take in information the way the net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

Because there may be a lot to see on-line, with hyperlinks, notifications and the mere existence different websites and apps, distractions are arduous to withstand. Tweets, then a most of 140 characters (and right now a nonetheless temporary 280), are simply skimmable, and posts on different social media platforms are sometimes equally digestible at first look.

We’re neurologically programmed to hunt the pleasure or reward of latest bite-sized items of content material present, which causes us to enter a “dopamine loop,” behavioral psychologist Susan Weinschenk explains in Psychology Today. “When you bring up the feed on one of your favorite apps the dopamine loop has become engaged,” Weinschenk writes. “With every photo you scroll through, headline you read or link you go to, you are feeding the loop which just makes you want more. It takes a lot to reach satiation, and in fact you might never be satisfied. Chances are what makes you stop is that someone interrupts you.”

8. It can trick you into considering it is one thing extra.
In the film Her, Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Theodore, falls in love together with his digital assistant, Samantha. But this phenomenon isn’t confined to science fiction. Humans have the potential to kind relationships with artificially clever personas. Even if we all know we’re not speaking to an actual particular person once we’re typing backwards and forwards with a chatbot, for instance, if the AI appears refined or actual sufficient, our minds would possibly get tricked into interacting with it as if it had been.

Liesl Yearsley offered her machine-learned powered digital assistant startup Cognea to IBM Watson in 2014. As she writes for MIT Technology Review, due to the always-on, useful nature of AI, individuals are inclined to understand assistants as loyal and trusted companions, participating in prolonged conversations and sharing private particulars. She and her crew constructed assistants with completely different goals coded into their interactions with people, e.g. boosting gross sales.

“The giant companies at the forefront of AI -- across social media, search, and ecommerce -- drive the value of their shares by increasing traffic, consumption and addiction to their technology,” Yearsley writes. “They do not have bad intentions, but the nature of capital markets may push us toward AI hell-bent on influencing our behavior toward these goals.”

Speaking of the blurry line between people and AI, ethicists have explored questions corresponding to whether or not it’s OK to inflict violence on robots.

9. It turns on a regular basis actions into video games.
Gamifying sure behaviors is a strong method to incentivize individuals to interact in them. Think of how health apps encourage you to set objectives, examine your efficiency to different customers and congratulate you whenever you hit milestones. Or, how manufacturers you store with remind you in regards to the variety of loyalty factors you’ve gathered and entice you with the following reward you’re eligible to unlock.

Then, there’s gamification because it pertains to work. For instance, ride-hailing apps corresponding to Uber manipulate drivers, who're impartial contractors and don’t have scheduled shifts, to remain on the street longer. When a driver is about to log out, Uber will typically push them a notification that they might be eligible for a pay bonus in the event that they proceed shepherding clients for a bit longer. In the previous, it is provided tiered bonuses to drivers who full a sure variety of rides on busy nights corresponding to Halloween or New Year’s Eve.

Uber additionally points reward corresponding to “Above and Beyond” to drivers who carry out nicely based mostly on rider suggestions, in response to The New York Times. The Times additionally reported that Uber has “experimented with video game techniques, graphics and non-cash rewards of little value that can prod drivers into working longer and harder -- and sometimes at hours and locations that are less lucrative for them.”

Uber is only one gig employee platform that makes use of gamification ways to incentivize its employees. Instacart, Postmates and DoorDash -- different platforms that depend on gig employees -- supply efficiency metrics and different info designed to incentivize output.

10. It adjustments how we talk.
Technology is a double-edged sword, in some ways. It distracts us, nevertheless it additionally offers us entry to info and permits us to speak globally and effectively. The identical goes for its implications for the way we talk. The means to sort rapidly and distribute our concepts through the online makes mass communication doable to any particular person with an web connection. Social media helps us preserve communication with family and friends who stay far-off, or helps us set up relationships with individuals with widespread pursuits or potential collaborators we wouldn’t in any other case know.
But some analysis has proven that the extra an individual makes use of know-how to speak, the higher nervousness they expertise when it’s time for a face-to-face interplay. Some dad and mom elevating youngsters within the smartphone and pill period restrict their children’ “screen time,” as a result of they consider rising analysis that reveals that speech and language growth hinges on on a regular basis human interactions.

Then there’s the idea of “phubbing” -- snubbing an in-person companion by your cellphone. A 2016 research revealed in Computers in Human Behavior discovered that 17 p.c of smartphone customers “phub” 4 instances a day. More not too long ago, a 2018 Journal of Applied Social Psychology research revealed that when individuals get phubbed, they perceived the standard of their communication and relationship with the phubber to be negatively affected. This was as a result of getting phubbed diminished their sense of belonging.
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