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Compulsion Loops


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A presentation by Richard Buchanan and Adam Crowe to students attending the Michigan State University: Study Abroad 2012: Mass Media in the UK programme.

Published in: Design, Technology, Business
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Compulsion Loops

  1. 1. Compulsion Loops Compulsive Behavior As Mass MediaImage:
  2. 2. A presentation to students attending theMichigan State University: Study Abroad2012: Mass Media in the UK programme.
  3. 3. Who are you guys?
  4. 4. Richard Buchanan @replayzero— Creative Strategist (Ideas)Adam Crowe @adamcrowe— Engagement Strategist (Interactions)We look for behavioral patterns shaped bynew technologies and use those patternsto create clever ideas and engaginginteractions to connect people to brands.
  5. 5. 1. The Evolution of Media2. Compulsion Loops3. Why is this happening?
  6. 6. The Evolution of Media
  7. 7. The Evolution of Media Gathering around PEOPLE Gathering around CONTENTGathering around PEOPLE ONLINE Gathering around ACTIVITIES ONLINE
  8. 8. The Evolution of MediaGathering around PEOPLE: Communication ● 70% Nonverbal, "Tribal", "Oral", "Acoustic Space" (McLuhan) ● This was before media and when advertising was mostly word-of-mouthGathering around CONTENT: Mass Media ● Print, Radio, TV, Advertising, "Literal" "Visual" (McLuhan) ● The golden age of mass media/mass advertiser/mass consumer symbiosisGathering around PEOPLE ONLINE: Social Networking ● Bonding/Gossip/Identity/Status "Retribalization" (McLuhan) ● Online socializing relies on media platforms but advertisers are resentedGathering around ACTIVITIES ONLINE: Compulsion Loops ● Social Data: Friends/Likes/Points "Consensus" (McLuhan) ● Frequent activity is encouraged by media platforms to attract advertisers
  9. 9. People (Online): CommunicationEmailIM/Chat/SkypeMobile: Voice/Text } TalkingActivities (Online): Information"Social" Networking"Social" Gaming"Social" Curation } Clicking
  10. 10. Online activities Relationships AchievementsInfographic: David McCandless
  11. 11. Compulsion Loops?
  12. 12. Compulsion Loops● def. Compulsion Loop: A habitual behavior that a human will repeat to gain a neurochemical reward: a feeling of pleasure and/or a relief from pain. Not doing the behavior causes discomfort.● Media is no longer about simply capturing attention; it is about cultivating habits within users so that they will be compelled to return to, and engage with, a system.
  13. 13. We are talking aboutthe psychobiology and neurochemistry of media
  14. 14. “All media are extensions of somehuman faculty – psychic or physical.The wheel is an extension of the foot.The book is an extension of the the eye.Clothing, an extension of the skin.Electric circuitry, an extension of thecentral nervous system.”— Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects
  15. 15. “... we have extended all parts of our bodies and senses bytechnology, we are haunted by the need for an outer consensusof technology and experience that would raise our communallives to the level of world-wide consensus.” — Marshall McLuhan
  16. 16. This is a placenta
  17. 17. Image:
  18. 18. “Man is condemned to be free; because oncethrown into the world, he is responsible foreverything he does.” — Jean-Paul Sartre
  19. 19. Existential Facts of Life:People dont know what they wantbecause they are hopelessly andinescapably conflicted, caughtbetween the need for both securityand novelty.
  20. 20. Security Novelty ControlSecurity NoveltyRelationships AchievementConformity Individuality/IdentityBelonging/Safety Choice/FreedomDomesticity AdventureConsistency (Life) Risk (Loss/Pain/Death)
  21. 21. Thus:Modern marketing wants to helppeople manage this overwhelmingsense of choice in order to achievea sense of belonging.
  22. 22. Problem:Mass mediums have fragmented.Big advertising budgets can no longerguarantee the scheduled delivery ofan audience to advertisers. Image:
  23. 23. How will media survive?Cultivate habits within users so they willbe compelled to return and engage witha system (hopefully creating socialentanglement in the process). Image:
  24. 24. From hunting and tracking to cultivating and harvesting
  25. 25. Why are we telling you this?
  26. 26. Desktop Internet vs Mobile InternetImage: Image:
  27. 27. Know Thy Compulsion Loop
  28. 28. Image:“In the emerging, highly programmedlandscape ahead, you will either create thesoftware or you will be the software. It’s reallythat simple: Program, or be programmed.”— Douglas Rushkoff
  29. 29. Prediction:Successful future media platformswill be those that cultivate andthen service their users emotionaldependencies.
  30. 30. Compulsion Loops
  31. 31. Compulsion Loops● def. Compulsion Loop: A habitual behavior that a human will repeat to gain a neurochemical reward: a feeling of pleasure and/or a relief from pain. Not doing the behavior causes discomfort.● Dopamine motivates novelty-seeking behavior. Both novelty-seeking (achievement) and relationship-seeking (security) behaviors are rewarded with Endorphins (pleasure and/or pain relief).
  32. 32. The Compulsion SpiralCompulsion Loops foster loyalty and commitmentthrough giving us the sense of making progress.
  33. 33. DopamineDopamine “Dopamine is not about pleasure, its about the anticipation of pleasure.” Video:
  34. 34. Intermittent Variable RewardsMaybe youll be rewarded as before.Inconsistency! (security vs novelty) Image: Spinning by quinn.anya on Flickr
  35. 35. B = MATTRIGGER (stimulus) (at the same ACTION (response) moment)Internal: Feeling Ability: Easy - Hard Dopamine released(negative: pain/loss), to encourage work Motivation: Low - High towards REWARDTime, Context, Routine Trigger: Sufficient givenExternal: Cue, Prompt, ability and motivation?Call, Offer, Request Endorphins released to REWARD ACTIONCOMMITMENT REWARD(reinforcement) Types (security vs novelty):Pay (with time, money, data, Survival: Resourcesshare, invite) to do the Dopamine released to encourage work Social: RelationshipsACTION again. Paying towards REWARD Self: Reputationrationalizes ACTION tomaintain consistent self-image Based on Desire Engine Canvas by
  36. 36. ACTION (response) HighMotivation HIGH MOTIVATION HIGH MOTIVATION LOW ABILITY HIGH ABILITY MOTIVATION Trigger Success Trigger LOW MOTIVATION Fail HIGH ABILITY LowMotivation Low Ability: Hard to do ABILITY High Ability: Easy to do BJ Foggs Behavior Model
  37. 37. Triggers “More and more of those [hot] triggers are coming through our peers ... ” Video:
  38. 38. Analytics (Theyre watching you, Neo.)Control room of the Cyworld portal, operated by SK Communications, Seoul, Korea.
  39. 39. “Games can produce enormous volumes ofdata because it’s really simple to gather everylittle interaction the player has in the game ...Zynga, for example, uses data to determinewhich design choices create greater tendenciesfor players to stay engaged longer, involvemore friends, or pay to enhance the gameexperience…”— John Ferrara in: A Gaming Revolution, Minus the Hype
  40. 40. “[T]he data trail we createonline can hem us in and trapus.... [O]ur past historybecomes inescapable, shapingthe contours of the onlineexperience we can have, whichmore and more shapes thekind of life experience we canhave generally, limiting whatwe know about, what we doand how we are seen and whatwe accomplish.”— Rob Horning: "Engagement Ads" onFacebook
  41. 41. Examples...
  42. 42. Image:
  43. 43. 526 million daily active users (Source: Facebook, March 2012)Average monthly use per visitor: 405 minutes(Pinterest: 89, Tumblr: 89, Twitter: 21, Google+: 3)(Source: comScore, January 2012)Average of 3.2 billion likes and comments per day duringthe first quarter of 2012(Source: Facebook, April 2012)48% of 18–34 year olds check Facebook immediately afterthey wake up (Source:, November 2011) Image: Facebook
  44. 44. B = MAT Trigger (at the same Action moment) I: At PC or on Mobile, Waking, A: Easy if at PC of on Mobile: Waiting, Watching, Loneliness, Dopamine released Log in, check updates and to encourage work Boredom, Indecision, Fatigue, notifications, Easy to update towards REWARD Excitement/Anxiety (FOMO) status or click Like E: Update email, tab notice, See app M: Very high if messaged or icon/logo/name, See Like button, feeling lonely, bored or anxious See link to FB content Endorphins released to REWARD ACTIONCommitment RewardClick Like, Create account, Add Res: Adding content/data topersonal data, Import email contacts, renew connections with friendsAdd friend, Update status, Rel: Added, Messaged, Liked, Dopamine releasedComment, Customize profile, Commented, Tagged, Invited to encourage workUpload photos, Add Event, towards REWARDUpdate personal Information Rep: Friends (Count), Groups(relationship status), Install mobile app Based on Desire Engine Canvas by
  45. 45. Facebook: Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)● The Hot Nightclub... that every one is at, and so no one wants to be left out. People fear missing out on shared experiences because if other people werent there with you, it didnt happen ("pics or it didnt happen").● Social Casino: Staying at the tables, adding more data to improve the odds of receiving the (intermittent and variable) reward of a feeling of belonging (security).● Talent Show: People perform for the sake of gaining attention and reward their friends for gaining attention. People narrow the range of their social performances to only those that will fit Facebooks talent show format.
  46. 46. Image:
  47. 47. ZYNGA
  48. 48. 4.4 million daily average users (Source: AppData, May 2012)Cisco estimated players spent an average of 68 minutes aday playing (Source: AdAge Digital, October 2010)Zynga’s core paying audience is 30-55 year old females ZYNGA(Source: Inside Social Games, July 2010)...if you plant a field of pumpkins at noon, for example, you must return toharvest at eight o’clock that evening or risk losing the crop. Planting requiresthe user to click on each square three times: once to harvest the previouscrop, once to re-plow the square of land, and once to plant the new seeds.This means that a fourteen by fourteen plot of land – which is relatively smallfor Farmville – takes almost six hundred mouse-clicks to farm, andobligates you to return in a few hours to do it again.(Source: Cultivated Play by A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz, March 2010)
  49. 49. B = MATT (at the same A moment)l: Wake, Boredom (Waiting), A: Easy if at PC: Log into FB andAnxiety (Loss of crops), Dopamine released click around in the farm to encourage workLoneliness (Nurturance) towards REWARD M: High if tending to decaying crop or if reciprocating by workingE: At PC, See app logo, on coworkers farmUpdate email, Invite or farmactivity on FB newsfeed Endorphins released to REWARD ACTIONC RBuild farm, Plant crops, Harvest Res: Tending, Winning items,crops, Decorate farm, Pay for Buying items, Harvestingitems with credits or cash, Rel: Inviting, Receiving gifts, Dopamine releasedInvite others to see your farm, to encourage work Coworking (reciprocity)Gift items to coworkers towards REWARD Rep: Being added, Designing, decorating, and arranging farm Based on Desire Engine Canvas by
  50. 50. Farmville: Social Reciprocity in Coworkerville● Silent together: People run out of things to say but still want to appear sociable. Farmville allows passive and asynchronous socializing through a game.● Social obligations: If you know your friends are visiting your farm every day youll spend more time and money to keep it tidy (women are nesters). If your friends do work on your farm, you feel you have to return the favor, thus players are bound in loops of reciprocity.● Sunk costs: The more time players invest, the more they have to rationalize their investment, so they show off by buying decorative and functional items.
  51. 51. PINTEREST
  52. 52. PINTEREST
  53. 53. United States top pins: crafts, gifts, hobbies/leisure,interior design, and fashion designers/collections.United Kingdom top pins: venture capital, bloggingresources, crafts, Web analytics, and SEO/marketing.(Source: PINTEREST3 average pins per user (80% of pins are repins)(Source: RJMetrics, February 2012)Average monthly use per visitor: 89 minutes(Facebook: 405, Tumblr: 89, Twitter: 21, Google+: 3)(Source: comScore, January 2012)
  54. 54. B = MAT T (at the same A moment) I: Wake, Arrive/Leave A: Easy if at PC or on mobile: Office/School/Home, Waiting, Dopamine released Just click Pin it button or repin to encourage work Boredom, Anxiety, Loneliness M: High if youve found image towards REWARD E: At PC or on Mobile, See worthy of collecting (immediate App icon/logo, Update email, See visibility and peer approval) and if collectable image, See Pin it button you fear losing that image Endorphins released to REWARD ACTIONC RCreate account, Create collection, Res: Finding, Pinning,Organize collection, Browse user Organizingcollections, Share collection, Dopamine released Rel: Added, Adding, Repined,Repin images, Send invites, to encourage work Repinning, CommentingInstall Pin it button on site towards REWARD Rep: Invited, Added, Repinned, Commented Based on Desire Engine Canvas by
  55. 55. Pinterest: Social Curation (Pin it or lose it)● Social window shopping: When our personal tastes are validated by others they get rewarded and reinforced. We add value to images by contextualising them in sets. Pinterest benefits through purchase intent data.● No choice to make: We can be so crippled by too much choice that wed rather collect than consume.● Curating the perfect catalogue: Pinning single images probably isnt enough to gain attention, so users level up by creating tastefully curated collections.
  56. 56. TWITTER Image: @ngonews
  57. 57. TWITTER
  58. 58. 200 million tweets per day; retweets: 3–5%(Sources: Twitter, June 2011; Tweet, Tweet, Retweet, danah boyd et al., 2010)What makes you retweet?Interesting content: 92%Personal connection: 84%Humor: 66%Incentive: 32%Retweet requests: 21% TWITTERCelebrity status: 26%(Source: The Social Media Skinny, February 2012)50% of users access Twitter via their cell phone(Source: Customer Insight Group, February 2012)
  59. 59. B = MATT (at the same A moment)I: Waking, Waiting, Watching TV A: Easy to scroll through tweets,Loneliness, Boredom, Dopamine released Easy to click Tweet This or RT to encourage workExcitement/Anxiety (FOMO) towards REWARD M: High if bored or waiting, HighE: At PC or on Mobile, See app if RTed, Replied, DMed, High ificon/logo, Text or email notification thought of something to tweet(RT, Mention, Reply, DM, Follow),See a Tweet This button Endorphins released to REWARD ACTIONC RScroll public tweets, Create account, Res: Finding good Tweet or linkFollow (Add friend), Tweet, RT, DM, Rel: Followed, Replied, DMedView people Similar to you,Favorite, View Trending Topics, Dopamine released Rep: Followed, RTed, Replied, to encourage work Mentioned, Listed, FavoritedDesign Profile, Add Mobile, towards REWARDClick Tweet This, InstallTweet This button on website Based on Desire Engine Canvas by
  60. 60. Twitter – Global Village Gossip● Twitter is McLuhans "Tribal Drum": Tweets come from everywhere-all-at-once creating an "acoustic space"● Humans are hardwired for distractions (pro survival). The average 13- to 17-year-old sends and receives 3,339 texts a month, more than 100 per day (Nielsen, 2010)● We gossip to check the health of relationships in the group and thereby find our place in the social hierarchy● "Retribalized" global villagers; people feel safer in tribes with a stable consensus (security > novelty). Celebrity become idols of focused group attention and are rewarded with adoration (followers and retweets).
  61. 61. Why is this happening?
  62. 62. Image:
  63. 63. People Crave Feedback● Compulsion Loops offer both users and the media platform immediate feedback on their activities and this feedback is available on any internet-connected device. So long as this feedback is flowing, everyone is happy.● Compulsion Loops resolve our conflicting needs for both security and novelty by rewarding us for achieving a sense of control over our environment by giving us new things to control within that same environment● Compulsion Loops foster loyalty and commitment because they give us a sense of making progress.
  64. 64. Feeling in control with a sense of progress... Image:
  65. 65. “The terrible truth is that a whole lot of usbegged for a Skinner Box we could crawl into,because the real worlds system of rewards isso much more slow and cruel than we expectedit to be. The danger lies in the fact that thesegames have become so incredibly efficient atdelivering the sense of accomplishment thatpeople used to get from their education orcareer.”— David Wong: 5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted
  66. 66. “Everything has been figured out,except how to live.” — Jean-Paul Sartre
  67. 67. “Were altering internal states.” – Nicholas Carr: Hierarchy of Innovation ty No uri ve c Se lty Image: Nicholas Carr
  68. 68. “Environments are not passivewrappings, but are, rather, activeprocesses which are invisible. Theground rules, pervasive structure,and overall patterns of environmentselude easy perception.”— Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage
  69. 69. “Everything is number.”— Pythagoras, Philosopher, ~570–495 BC
  70. 70. “People’s lives are beingrun by stupid algorithmsmore and more.”— Jaron Lanier (Technologist and author of You AreNot a Gadget)
  71. 71. “When we see ourselvesranked, were trained towant to grow that score.”— Joe Fernandez (Creator and founder of socialmedia analytics service Klout)
  72. 72. “... in a world of overwhelminginformation and choice, people willturn to their friends to help them decide... that is what we have learned to dothrough thousands of years ofevolution.”— Paul Adams: The future of advertising: Many, lightweightinteractions over time
  73. 73. “People start askingsimpler questions so theycan get immediateanswers.”— Sherry Turkle: Expecting More from Technologyand Less from Each Other
  74. 74. “Things have moved from:‘I have a feeling, I want to make acall to ‘I want to have a feeling,I need to send a text.’”— Sherry Turkle, Psychologist and author of AloneTogether
  75. 75. “Our culture, obsessed with numbers, has givenus the idea that what we can measure is moreimportant that what we cant measure. Itmeans that we make quantity more importantthan quality. If quantity forms the goals of ourfeedback loops, if quantity is the center of ourattention and language and institutions, if wemotivate ourselves, rate ourselves, and rewardourselves on our ability to produce quantity,then quantity will be the result.— Donella H. Meadows: Thinking in Systems
  76. 76. Why are we telling you this? Questions?
  77. 77. ReferencesSlide 01: Karma whoring 09: InformationIsBeautiful - Chicks Rule? 13: Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects 14: Facebook - Visualizing Friendships by Paul Butler 14: Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man 17: Jean-Paul Sartre
  78. 78. ReferencesSlide 26: Lullaby Spring by Damien Hirst 32: Dopamine Jackpot! Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure 33: Schedules of reinforcement 34: How to Manufacture Desire: An Intro to the Desire Engine by Nir Eyal 35: BJ Foggs Behavior Model 36: Changing Behavior and Changing Policies: BJ Fogg
  79. 79. ReferencesSlide 37: Cyworld 38: OReilly Radar - A gaming revolution, minus the hype 39: Filter bubble 39: Marginal Utility - "Engagement Ads" on Facebook 61: Agent Smith 65: Jean-Paul Sartre
  80. 80. ReferencesSlide 66: Rough Type: Nicholas Carrs Blog - The hierarchy of innovation 67: Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects 68: Pythagoras 69: Wired - What Your Klout Score Really Means by Seth Stevenson 70: Wired - What Your Klout Score Really Means by Seth Stevenson 71: THINK OUTSIDE IN - The future of advertising: Many, lightweight interactions over time
  81. 81. ReferencesSlide 72: Harvard Book Store Channel - Sherry Turkle (Video) 73: Confessions of an Aca/Fan - "Does This Technology Serve Human Purposes?": A"Necessary Conversation" with Sherry Turkle (Part Three) 74: Donella Meadows