Tristan Harris, an ex-design ethicist and product philosopher at Google, has slammed app creators for making smartphones as addictive as poker machines. According to Harris, When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.
At his former job at Google, Harris’s job was to study how the design, affordances and choice architectures on digital screens affects Google users. He helped invent and advocate for new designs that embed mindfulness into the screens people use.
Harris wrote in a recent Medium post, that just like magicians tech product designers try to exploit psychological vulnerabilities. Harris, who admits he’s an amateur magician, said he looks for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so magicians can influence what people do without them even realising it.
Product designers of apps are the same.
Harris describes it: “If you want to maximise addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximised when the rate of reward is most variable.”
It’s good for business to get people addicted to their phones, but Harris argues that companies like Apple and Google have a responsibility to “reduce these effects by converting intermittent variable rewards into less addictive, more predictable ones with better design”.
Another way to hijack people is to keep them consuming things, even when they aren’t hungry anymore. Harris sited Cornell professor Brian Wansink, who demonstrated in his Bottomless Bowls study that you can trick people into consuming heaps of soup without feeling hungry by automatically refilling the bowl. Participants who at from a bottomless bowls at 73 per cent more calories than those with normal bowls and did not feel any more satisfied than the group with the normal bowls.
Harris argues that tech companies exploit the same principle:
“News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave.
“It’s also why video and social media sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook autoplay the next video after a countdown instead of waiting for you to make a conscious choice (in case you won’t). A huge portion of traffic on these websites is driven by autoplaying the next thing.”
The Works has announced the launch of ‘Question Everything’ a new brand platform and campaign for their newest client, Archie Rose. As a nine-year-old independently owned and operated Australian multi-spirit distillery, Archie Rose has garnered a devoted following among existing customers, with a reputation primarily built on white spirits – particularly gin. However in line […]
Brisbane performance agency farsiight has announced the launch of its new market positioning, Growth for Good, in response to a changing business landscape, marking a departure from a “growth at all costs” mentality that has defined the industry in recent years. Agency founders and brother duo, Josh and Ben Somerville, envision Growth for Good as […]
Australia’s largest privately owned transit media supplier, GoTransit Media Group, now offers unprecedented options for transit advertising in Newcastle – on both land and sea following their successful tender to supply interior advertising inside the popular Stockton Ferries. The national transit media company is already well acquainted with the thriving NSW market, having successfully operated […]
Heritage and People’s Choice have launched People First Bank, the new name for positive change in banking Australia’s largest customer-owned bank has unveiled its new brand, announcing that Heritage and People’s Choice will be unified under the new name of People First Bank. Chairman Michael Cameron said the highly anticipated new brand offered a compelling […]
L’Oréal Groupe Australia and New Zealand have announced one of the largest investments to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to pioneer new coral restoration efforts in the region. L’Oréal Groupe Australia and New Zealand have announced today a new partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF), to help coral reefs withstand the devastating impacts […]
Effective immediately, S4Capital’s operating brand Media.Monks, a digital-first marketing and advertising services company, has appointed Matthew Godfrey to lead its APAC Content practice. With over 15 years of experience leading innovative businesses in the Asia-Pacific region, Godfrey will support a best-in-class senior leadership team across the region as EVP, head of content, APAC. He joins […]
Chandra Sinnathamby, Adobe’s director, digital media B2B strategy & GTM, Asia-Pacific, explains how the tech firm is empowering its small business customers with new AI tools, including its Adobe Firefly tools. In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, small businesses face numerous challenges when it comes to creating captivating content that resonates with their audience. Despite the […]
Summer mornings are heating up with Triple M again in 2023, thanks to the star-studded line-up of Harley Breen, Candice Warner and Tom Tilley, who are joining forces each weekday morning from 6-9 am for Triple M’s Summer Breakfast show. Airing from 4 to 15 December in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and streamed live on […]
The Hit Network has announced its summer line-up for 2023, kicking off on Monday, 4 December, featuring The Jimmy & Nath Show, Hamish & Andy podcast, Nights with Seany B and special return celebrations for Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Hit’s cheeky radio duo Jimmy Smith and Nath Roye of The Jimmy & Nath […]
Full-service CX, media and advertising agency AFFINITY has completed an 18-month-long global rebranding for ASX-listed engineering powerhouse Worley. The rebrand reflects Worley’s commitment towards being a leading force in sustainable change. Worley, a global provider of professional services in the energy, chemicals and resources sectors working across six continents, has set out on a significant […]
Highlighting its craft and a world-class shopping experience, Australia’s favourite heritage brand R.M.Williams has announced a consumer competition to celebrate the opening of its new national flagship store at 345 George St. Sydney. Launching on 1 December in line with the new store opening, ‘If The Boot Fits’ invites brand lovers and new customers alike […]