By Dr. Eva Fisher, c. Psych.
How your Smartphone trained your brain.
Smartphones are smarter than you are. Really. What’s the last time you got a notification and simply ignored it? Bet you couldn’t keep concentrating until you checked it out.
There’s no shame in it, your Smartphone really wants you addicted. It’s deliberately designed to do that.
The technique that Smartphones use to get you hooked, and keep your hooked, is called Classical Conditioning, and a scientist called Dr. Pavlov dreamed it up. Here’s how.
In the 1920s, Dr Pavlov discovered that he could get dogs to salivate at his command.
The first step was this. When the animals got a bowl of food, he arranged it so a bell would ring at the very same time. Each time they were fed, he rang the same bell.
Within a week, the animals learned that when the bell rang, food was on the way.
But then, Dr Pavlov tried something different. He was curious what would happen if he rang the bell, but withheld the food.
What happened? The animal’s salivary glands became active at the sound of the bell alone, whether or not there was food, and whether or not they were hungry.
The animals had learned to associate the sound of the bell with just the *MEMORY* of the food. Their brains had become conditioned to associate the sound of the bell with the anticipation of the reward, e.g., the food.
And so, learning theory, called Conditioned Response came into being.
Smartphones use this same Conditioned Response to train you to pay attention, and to have you anticipate a reward whenever your Smartphone notifications, or alerts, go off. Doesn’t matter whether you choose the bells, chimes, or your fave song, it always works.
Your brain has been trained to respond, even when there is no message waiting from your bae or BFF.
You can’t turn your brain off, but you can definitely turn off your Smartphone.
But I bet you won’t.