The Science of Success

The Secret That Silicon Valley Giants Don’t Want You To Know with Dr. Adam Alter

March 1, 2018
In this episode we discuss the danger of getting addicted to your screens. We look at how technology is designed to be as addictive as possible, and how those addictions specifically make you spend more time on things like social media and news that make you less happy. We discuss how screens rob us of time and attention and why it’s so hard to break away from them. We also look at how-how you can structure your environment to spend more time away from your phone and create ways to get out of these addictive behavior loops with our guest Dr. Adam Alter. 
Dr. Adam Alter is an Associate Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, with an affiliated appointment in the New York University Psychology Department. His research focuses on judgment, decision making, and social psychology. He is the bestselling author of Drunk Tank Pink, and Irresistible, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, WIRED, and much more!
  • Technology programs like Facebook are not designed to make you happy - they're designed to be as addictive as possible and consume you
  • Steve Jobs didn't let his children use iPads
  • Why technology giants in Silicon Valley often don’t let their children use technology (and why that’s important for you)
  • The four negative affects of being addicted to your screens
    • Your psychological wellbeing
      • Your threshold for boredom declines dramatically
        • Bordem is good, it creates creative and divergent thinking
    • Negatively impacts your social wellbeing
      • Lowers your emotional intelligence and your ability to read the emotions of others
    • Negatively impacts you financially
      • In app purchases
    • Negatively impacts you in a physical way
      • Too much time in front of screens
  • Screens rob you of time and attention
  • The Drug of Choice Today is the PHONE
  • There’s a huge rise in behavioral addictions today
  • Social media and news make you LESS HAPPY when you use them - leaving you hollow and unfulfilled
  • People spend 3x time on average on apps that make them unhappy 
  • Is Adam a luddite for hating on smartphones?
  • AR and VR will make it even more difficult to break away from technology addiction
  • Apps today are built like slot machines - they are intentionally designed to hook you and not let you go
  • The same strategies used to keep people gambling are used in apps and technology to keep you addicted
  • Humans don’t like open loops - goals help close them 
  • “Email is a lot like zombies” - you can kill them all and they just keep coming
  • The abscence of stopping queues makes technology keep you addicted
  • How can we mindfully create stopping queues in our own lives?
  • You must become the architect of your own environment to control your own stopping queues
  • How to break your phone addiciton?
    • Set alarms to get off technology
    • Make your phone as physically far away from you as possible
  • You can engineer experiences that encourage positive outcomes, just like you can engineer negative outcomes
  • Games can treat pain - playing a game during a physically painful experience takes your pain away
  • Actively introduce a rule that physically distances you form your device - that’s the best way to do it 
  • It’s not easy or desirable to live in a tech free universe
  • Propinquity - the things that are close to your physical space have the biggest impact on your psychological experience
  • The story of “Drunk Tank Pink” and how subtle changes in your environment can create huge changes in your behavior
  • Homework - create as much distance as possible between yourself and your phone every single day