October 20, 2019

The Real Reason You're Addicted to Screens

“Nir Eyal does not for a second regret writing Silicon Valley’s tech engagement how-to, “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products,” even as he now has a new book out on how to free ourselves of that same addiction.

In his original manual for building enthralling smartphone apps, Mr. Eyal laid out the tricks “to subtly encourage customer behavior” and “bring users back again and again.” He toured tech companies speaking about the Hook Model, his four-step plan to grab and keep people with enticements like variable rewards, or pleasures that come at unpredictable intervals.

“Slot machines provide a classic example of variable rewards,” Mr. Eyal wrote.

Silicon Valley’s technorati hailed “Hooked.” Dave McClure, the founder of 500 Startups, a prolific incubator, called it “an essential crib sheet for any start-up looking to understand user psychology.”

But that was 2014. That was when making a slot-machinelike app was a good and exciting thing. When “seductive interaction design” and “design for behavior change” were aspirational phrases.”

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