24 Mar 2018

The science of online behaviour design

From This Way Up, 12:30 pm on 24 March 2018

Photo: (Photo by arvin febry on Unsplash)

Humans are hardwired to seek out rewards when we do stuff, and then hunt for those rewards again and again, according to behavioural designer Ramsay Brown.

The brain's reward centres have been helping us find food, shelter and a mate for millennia, Brown says.

But what happens when this impulse is hacked and subverted?

The arrival of pervasive digital technology has shifted the goal posts, creating a market for your attention in the quest to understand us better and to sell us stuff.

Ramsay Brown

Ramsay Brown Photo: (Twitter)

Now our experiences online can be meticulously designed and crafted to present us with a whole host of rewards – whether that's in the form of messages, notifications, likes, retweets, or other forms of digital endorsement.

Brown is the chief operating officer of a business called Boundless Mind (formerly Dopamine Labs) which is exploring more ethical ways to harvest your attention that let users better understand the process and opt out of it more easily.