Tech Companies Hook Users to Compete in Crowded Markets

Tech companies fighting for market share are focused on making their products and services so pleasurable that they become the stuff of compulsive habits in their customers.

The tech marketplace has become oversaturated to the point where thousands of companies competing for public attention are constantly trying to innovate new tactics for separating themselves from the pack. According to this piece by Ted Greenwald in MIT Technology Review, the latest hot trend is the marriage of marketing and science in such a way that the use of certain products and services leads to the subconscious formation of repeatable behaviors. Call it habit-forming technology, and keep an eye out because it's coming for you.

Greenwald's piece begins with coverage of the testing phase of a new website feature at Expedia. Electrodes adhered to a subject's face relay positive and negative responses to images on the site. Expedia's researchers collect data that will eventually contribute to a modification of the travel-planning experience. The aim is to ignite the customer's sense of wonder, to trigger the release of dopamine in their brains. Expedia's researchers want their customers to form a compulsive habit. They want to get them addicted to Expedia, or at least make it so they subconsciously grow accustomed to using Expedia and only Expedia when planning a trip: 

"The company aims to make the experience of shopping so pleasurable that using the site becomes a habit. Forging new habits has become an obsession among technology companies. In an age when commercial competition is only a click away, the new mandate is to make products and services that generate compulsive behavior: in essence, to get users hooked on a squirt of dopamine to the brain’s reward center to ensure that they’ll come back."

Greenwald's piece delves deeply into this emerging tech trend. You can learn more about it at MIT Tech Review.

As for habit-forming in general, in the video below, Big Think expert Gretchen Rubin explains the pathology behind repeated behavior:

Photo credit: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Are we all multiple personalities of universal consciousness?

Bernardo Kastrup proposes a new ontology he calls “idealism” built on panpsychism, the idea that everything in the universe contains consciousness. He solves problems with this philosophy by adding a new suggestion: The universal mind has dissociative identity disorder.

We’re all one mind in "idealism." (Credit: Alex Grey)
Mind & Brain

There’s a reason they call it the “hard problem.” Consciousness: Where is it? What is it? No one single perspective seems to be able to answer all the questions we have about consciousness. Now Bernardo Kastrup thinks he’s found one. He calls his ontology idealism, and according to idealism, all of us and all we perceive are manifestations of something very much like a cosmic-scale dissociative identity disorder (DID). He suggests there’s an all-encompassing universe-wide consciousness, it has multiple personalities, and we’re them.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less