Thursday, April 23, 2015

Digital Addiction: The Social Cost of Constant Mobile Connection

“We have some very strong habits around a lot of our technology, particularly the cellphone,” says psychologist Prof Art Markman, author of Smart Change.  “Back when I was in college studying introductory psychology, we had to train a rat to press a bar. We rewarded the rat by giving it water. Whenever it went near the side of the cage where the bar was or when it brushed against the bar, you would reward it. “Once it finally figured out pressing the bar, the idea was to give it a reward 40-50 per cent of the time in a random way. That would keep the rat busy for a long time. “There are two other situations in the modern world where we encounter that exact schedule of reinforcement: in casinos and in our cellphone behaviour. “We look for notifications to see if we have email. In doing so we create a pattern to be rewarded with a new message about half the time we take our phones out. We have trained ourselves to press a bar over and over again. Once we’ve done it enough times, we’re basically no different than a rat in a box. We’ll keep doing it for an awfully long time.” more

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