Facebook, the Skinner Box

Found a great talk by Cory Doctorow today via Netzpolitik, where he discusses a psychological mechanism Facebook uses to get users to frequently return to the site and to disclose more and more personal information.

The psychological reward or kick apparently created when receiving attention from peers as a result of posting something personal ties right in with observations made by game design expert Jesse Schell, who researched the game mechanics of popular games that use psychological tricks to keep players to return again and again as well as to spend money. If you have a few more minutes to spare, you should definitely watch his very insightful talk about what makes the success of some these games as well as how game mechanics could be used to make people exhibit certain behavior in non-gaming contexts:

Is the game-designed world described by Schell – which essentially equals an omnipresent, all surrounding Skinner Box – something desirable? I certainly don’t think so. The potential of (deliberately) misguiding people into something disadvantageous to them or society is far too great and I think only good parenting as described by Doctorow can ensure that tomorrow’s generation will be aware of the psychological tricks that companies and governments will try to play on them in the future.


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