Posts Tagged psychology

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Hooked - Habit Forming ProductsHow do you get consumers hooked on your product?

Creating consumer habits drives higher customer lifetime value, allows for flexibility for companies to increase prices, and supercharges growth.

Nir Eyal, writer for TechCrunch, Forbes, Psychology Today, recently authored the book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.

Hook is an experience design to connect the user’s problem to your solution with enough frequency to form a habit.

Many of Silicon Valley’s most successful and innovative companies like Facebook have Hook embedded into their products, and the emerging wave of tech superstars, like Meerkat, keep this model in mind during their product development.

Here is a recap of his 4 Part Framework straight from the source. How can you use his framework in your own product development?

  1. Trigger: How does the loop initiate? In the beginning this may be through external triggers (such as an email, notification, icon badge, etc) but through successive loops the user eventually creates internal triggers where a particular thought or emotion will send them back to your product. Usually a person will seek a solution to a negative emotion (pain point) like fatigue, loss, powerlessness, boredom.
    • What is your customer’s internal trigger? What is their itch?
  2. Action: Once the user is aware they need to use your product (through the trigger), what is the simplest action they can perform to get some kind of reward? For example, a Facebook “Like”.
    • BJ Fogg’s equation B= motivation + ability + trigger
    • The 6 factors to increase motivation: Seek Pleasure, Hope, Acceptance, Reduce Fear, Pain, Rejection
    • The 6 factors to increase ability: Time, Money, Physical Effort, Brain Cycles, Social Deviance, Non-routine
  3. Variable reward: How are they rewarded for this behavior? This could be social validation (e.g. “my friends approve!”), collection of material resources (e.g. add a photo to a collection) or personal gratification (e.g. inbox zero). The “variable” part is important – rewards should not always be predictable, encouraging users to repeat the cycle.
    • The unknown is fascinating
    • 3 Types of Reward: Tribe (Social rewards), Hunt (Search for sources), Self (Self-achievement, mastery)
  1. Investment: Finally, the user needs to put something back in to increase the chance of repeating the loop. This could be content (e.g. a book in your Kindle), user entered data (e.g. profile information or linked accounts), reputation (e.g. something to gain a 5 star seller review), or a learned skill (e.g. I’m now really good at this software program). The investment also sets up the trigger to for the next cycle of the loop.

Eyal also cautions the reader in their product development, emphasizing the difference between habit and addiction.  Habit is an impulse behavior done with little or no conscious thought. Addiction is something you want to stop doing but can’t.

As psychology becomes increasingly important in the tech world, we’ve seen many psychologists and those with behavioral economics backgrounds being tapped by Silicon Valley companies to gain deeper insights into the human mind.

However, sometimes businesses exploit the human psyche with tactics to take advantage of how we naturally think and respond as humans. Employing such manipulative tactics will only work so far, as those companies will find that eventually users will grow tired and migrate to more friendly, ethical competitors.

In our efforts to build products that people love and can’t put down, how can we create honestly and kindly, in a way that encourages behaviors that benefit the user?

From the Antedote Library: Top 6 Books for Psychology Lovers


Do you love diving deep into the psychology of human personality, behavior, and decisions? How do people arrive at certain decisions? What is the science behind our own thought processes?

Here is a list of the top 6 books from the Antedote library for the psychology lovers in your life:

How to be Alone by Sara Maitland

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz

Switch: How to Change when Change is Hard by Chip Heath

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

The Psychology Behind Personal Care Decisions

When we’re exploring consumers’ beliefs, behaviors and attitudes, and choices, we think in terms of three levels of understanding that map directly onto their levels of consciousness.

The conscious, the subconscious, and the unconscious mind each come with their own challenges if you are a researcher wanting to get to deep insight. Nowhere is this as true as in the world of personal care products. Not to worry though, the knowledge and tools are there, you just need to know where to go to find them, and how to use them once you have them in your hands.

“Bad” work habits are good for insight

Work habits

To continue the theme from my last post, I’ve been noticing more and more psychological research that supports my “bad” (not really bad, you’ll find) work habits.

1. A messy desk. This is a big one. It’s official; a messy desk has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to encourage creativity. In a paper in Psychological Science, researchers have shown that a “disorderly environment” makes people more creative and leads them to be drawn to things labeled as “new.” You can see for yourself here.

The research also found that people with tidy desks are boring and uptight. Ok, it didn’t really. It found that ordered environments encourage “healthy choices, generosity, and conventionality.” Time to start using two desks I think.

2. Doodling. It’s been shown to increase memory retention, problem solving ability, and concentration. Watch Sunni Brown’s talk “Doodlers, unite!” here.

3. Sitting in the dark. When I work late I don’t turn on the lights. I sit in the dark with a small desk lamp on. Darkness has also been shown to improve creative performance. A paper in the Journal of Environmental Psychology theorizes that darkness helps people feel “freedom from constraints, enabling a global and explorative processing style, which in turn facilitates creativity.”

So there you have it: sitting at a messy desk in the dark doodling away may very well lead you to your next killer insight, and it’s good for the environment too. You’re welcome.

Bad mornings are good for insight

I’ve never been a morning person. If I know I have an early meeting to get to, I have to set more than one alarm (just in case), and if I have a really early flight to make, I just don’t bother going to bed. The snooze button is my best friend.

yawningYep – the morning is not for me. The rising sun greets me with a fat punch in the face followed by a swift backhander rather than the gentle kiss of opportunities that a new day will bless me with. I’ve always looked at those people who leap out of bed with a smile on their face and a bucket-load of energy with a level of jealousy (and let’s face it, a lot of irritation and annoyance).

So here is some good news for all those people like me.

Being a groggy mess in the mornings, and wallowing in bed between snooze-buttons, or standing zombie-like in the shower for minutes on end, is actually good for creative insight generation.

Insight-based problem solving needs a big fat, unfocused approach to thinking. Flashes of inspiration are much more likely to come when your conscious, rational, inhibitory cognitive processes are at their weakest and your thoughts are allowed to wander around unchecked.

The British psychological Society reports a study by Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks where students were given a mix of insight-based and analytical problems to solve. The students were much better at solving the insight-focused problems at their sub-optimal time of functioning (early morning for us night-owls). Time of day didn’t do anything to affect the analytic tasks.

There’s even more good news.

There’s a whole bunch of research on the effect of caffeine on the brain, and while there is some debate over the specifics, everyone pretty much agrees that small amounts of caffeine improve hedonic tone (generalized feelings of happiness and contentment) and reduce anxiety, Caffeine has also been shown to significantly increase problem solving, decision making, and concentration.

So there you have it: undeniable proof that a groggy early morning for insight followed by a swift boost of caffeine (in your beverage of choice) for focusing on the insight, and making decisions about where to take it, seems like a perfect recipe for success.

Now I need to find some research that supports the fact that weekend-long Netflix binges increase IQ.