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Tech Companies Use Persuasive Design to Get Us Hooked | Vox

While there is yet no conclusive evidence that screens themselves are addictive, what we do know is that many games, social media apps, and viewing platforms are intentionally designed to be addictive. Persuasive design is a new field of research that studies how computers can change the way humans think and act. It relies on motivation, ability, and triggers. For social media, the motivation is the craving for social connection. For video games, it’s the desire to gain skills and accomplishments. Triggers are the notifications you get that new content has been added or a friend has posted something new; it’s the rewards in games when you reach a certain level.

The founding father of persuasive design runs a lab out of Stanford University dedicated to the study of these persuasive techniques. He’s known as the “millionaire maker,” and his research now serves as a blueprint for technology product development. The tech industry now relies on thousands of psychologists to advise them on how to keep users coming back. So concerning are these built-in manipulation techniques, that 200 psychologists recently petitioned the American Psychological Association (APA) to intervene in what they consider to be the unethical behavior of their peers.

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