Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beware of addictive stuffs

Are you an Email/Internet Junkie? I am. Sometimes I find myself checking email so often that it has a negative effect on my productivity. My other guilty pleasure is surfing wikipedia. There is a ton of addiction-forming stuff on the computer, and I definitely think there’s a pattern.

I read about an experiment that they did with monkeys around addiction a while back. At first the monkey got a bean every time he pushed the button on a machine. He liked that very much and kept pushing away. And when the machine stopped giving beans, he soon stopped pushing the button. Then they changed the experiment and had the machine dispense beans once in a while when the button was pushed. Again the monkey kept pushing the button to get more beans. However, this time when the machine stopped dispensing beans, the monkey kept pushing the button for a looooong time. He didn’t want to give up!

The conclusion seems to be that a stronger addictive behavior is formed when you are rewarded only sometimes, or unpredictably.

How this relates to me:

  • Email - When I check it there is only sometimes good news or useful/interesting information.
  • Wikipedia - When I click a new link, only sometimes do I find fascinating new trivia.

So these days, I try to consciously avoid these addictive types of behaviors. I’m also trying to think about the possibility of some lifehacks that make use of this addictive power in a positive way. I don’t have a good idea formulated yet, but I will let you know when I find one.

No comments: