Keynote - Nir Eyal (Sustainable Growth Day ‘19)
Thank. You it's great to be here today I love, being among my people my product, people it's fantastic, to be here you, know we have all seen how over the past several years these. Devices, in our pockets have had a profound, impact. On our day-to-day lives and so what I want to talk about today is the, deeper, psychology. Behind. How these products, and services that we all use every day change. Sorry. I'm trying to figure out our slide situation, there we go okay change, our daily behaviors. Be, and used, as an archetype, these companies that all started, out as toys as these nice-to-haves. As these products that we all first, time we saw them we dismissed, them as these you know just features and then, in the span of a few short years these, products are touching the lives of hundreds, of millions of users and these, companies of course are making hundreds of billions of dollars so. My question was how do they do it one of the fundamental, patterns. Underlying. What makes many of these habit-forming, products, so, stickies, all right so who are who are the usual suspects companies, like Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram and whatsapp of course YouTube and Google how, do these companies do it not just in the consumer, facing side but also in enterprise, so, I wrote this book hooked how to build habit-forming products, a few years ago and. We you all have a copy which is terrific today, I don't, want to go in too much depth because I want to leave lots of time for Q&A that's always my, favorite part of the presentation I want to actually hear from you about your engagement, challenges. So let me just give you a very brief overview, of how. Do we build for habit now just so that we're all in the same page around definition, the definition of a habit is an, impulse, to, do a behavior with little or no conscious. Thought it's, about half of what you do every. Single day is prompted. From these habits, these impulses, to do a behavior with little or no conscious, thought and I, believe that we are in the precipice, where we can use these habits, for, good where. We can help people live happy or healthier more productive more connected, lives by, using, the psychology, of designing for habits to help people live, better, lives that's, why I'm here today so. Well, if we want to analyze, what, is it about the most habit-forming products, out there and what can we learn from them what patterns. And we adopt, to our own products and services what, we find is that all of these products and services have embedded, within the, user experience what's, called a hook a hook. Is an experience, designed to, connect the users, problem. To. Your product, with enough, frequency to, form a habit let me say that again a hook, is an experience designed to connect the users problem, to your product, with enough frequency to, form a habit and it's through successive, cycles through, these hooks that, consumer, preferences, are shaped that our tastes, are formed, and that these habits take hold so, I'm gonna walk you through very, briefly the four basic. Steps of a, hook starting with a trigger an action, a reward, and finally an investment, let's. Start with triggers triggers, are these queues these calls to action, they tell us what to do next the, first type of X of trigger is called an external, trigger an external, trigger is something, in our environment that tells, us what to do next you know this that the pings the dings the Rings all of these things that, tell us what to do next what next behavior, to take right, we, in the product design community we know all about these external triggers is our craft is what we do for a living is design these external triggers but, what we don't think about enough and what is actually more important.
From A habit formation perspective, then these external, triggers are the, internal. Triggers. Internal. Triggers are things that tell the user what to do next, but, where the information, is not stored in the outside, environment but. Rather stored. As, an. Association. Inside. The, users head, so. What we do in our in a particular place in certain situations, around certain people and most, frequently, when we feel certain emotions. Prompt. Us to action tells, us what, to do next the. Most frequently, occurring internal. Triggers are these emotions, but not just any emotion they are specifically. Negative. Emotions. What, we do when we're feeling bored or lonesome, or loss or dissatisfied, or fatigued when we experience. These negative emotions we look for relief from, that discomfort, in fact. We know studies have found that. People suffering, from depression, check. Email, more. I just saw three people put away their phones. Why. Is that well what's going on here why did psychologists, find that people suffering from clinical depression check, email more it turns out that people suffering, from depression, experience. What's called a negative valence. State they feel down more. Often, than, the rest of the population and so what. Are they doing to boost their mood to be taken out of that negative valence state they're going online they're checking their devices they're looking at email more, often, than, the rest of the population, but. If we're honest with ourselves we. All do this to, some extent and it's perfectly healthy and perfectly normal where, do we go let me ask you where do we go what, app or website do we check when, we're feeling lonely where do we go. Facebook. Right somebody, said tinder. Is. That what I heard, from a different. Kind of loneliness but that is true, where. Do we go right, this is an obvious one where do we go when we're feeling unsure about something before we scan our brains to see if we know the answer what are we doing we. Google it of course and what about when we're feeling bored between, 2 & 4 o'clock in the afternoon there's that big project you don't want to work on right now where you go you, check YouTube, you check stock prices, you check reddit you check Pinterest you check the news sports scores all, of these things cater. To this uncomfortable, internal. Trigger of boredom we don't like that sensation, and we look for relief with the products and services that we use now. How do we use this for good how do we build healthy, engagement, in our users by. Understanding. The importance, of these internal triggers. Fundamentally. It comes down to being able to articulate, what, is that frequently, occurring, itch in your users life that's. The, most important. Question we can ask ourselves in, designing, a habit-forming product, is what, pain, point occurs. With sufficient frequency that. We can attach our products. Use to the. Only, reason you use any product. Or service the only reason you do any behavior. Is for. One reason, and one reason only. That. Reason, is to modulate, your mood. To, feel, something. Different, and so, you have got to be able to identify what, is that internal trigger where, does it occur for the user and does it occur with sufficient frequency that. We can attach our products, use to, the internal trigger so the solution to that discomfort, is found, with whatever solution we're building, for our users the next. Step of the hook is the action, phase the. Action, phase is defined as the simplest, behavior. The, user does in anticipation, of a reward the simplest, thing the user can do to, get relief now, let me show you a few habit-forming products, and I want you to see just how simple the action, phase is so something as simple as a scroll. On Pinterest. Okay, or a, search on Google or what. Could be simpler than just pushing the play button on YouTube, these, incredibly, simple, actions, done in anticipation of an immediate, reward now, there's, actually a formula, to help us predict, the likelihood, of these behaviors, has anybody seen this formula before anybody, familiar with this know, one. Or two hands Wow surprising, so this formula is very powerful this comes to us from BJ Fogg who is a researcher, at Stanford and Fogg. Tells us that for any behavior. Be any, behavior, online offline doesn't matter any, behavior, requires three things we. Need sufficient, motivation. Sufficient. Ability, ability is how easy or difficult something. Is to do and the, T stands for triggers we talked all about triggers let's, talk about motivation, and ability.
Motivation. Is the energy. For action, how much we want to do a particular behavior and we, have these six levers, that we, can pull on to make a behavior, more or less likely to occur because, all of us as human beings we seek pleasure we avoid pain we, seek hope we avoid fear we seek social acceptance, and we avoid social, rejection, so, these are the six levers that we can use if you've ever you know any television, commercial you have ever seen any, radio, spot any billboard any ad copy, anything on your website is, fundamentally. Using, these six levers, of motivation. To, spur a behavior, now, that's only one of three elements the, second part of B equals ma T is, ability. Ability. Is, the capacity. To do, a particular, behavior, how easy or, difficult something. Is to do of course the easier something is to do the, more likely people are to do it so, here again we have the six levers, that we can use to. Make a behavior, more or less likely to occur based. On how much time something. Takes how, much money something, costs how, much physical, effort is required to do a behavior brain. Cycles, this is a big one when it comes to technology products because, the harder, something is to understand. The, less likely, the behavior, is to occur, social. Deviant says that we become more likely to do something when we see other people like us doing it and finally. Non-routine, says that we become more likely to do something simply. For the fact that we have done it before in the past and this, is why habits, are so important. Because, the more we do a particular. Behavior the. More the, bet the easier that behavior becomes, and the more likely we are to do it again in the future, what. We call that what's that called it's. Called practice right, the more we do it the easier gets the, more likely we are to do it in the future so. We can actually plot out, these. Three basic elements on this conceptual, graph and ask, ourselves if we built a beautiful website an amazing new app whatever the experience, is but, users aren't, doing the thing we've designed for them to do there are only three, reasons why either, the. User lacks motivation. High motivation here, low motivation here the, user lacks ability, if something is easy to do it's over here I'm sorry if something is easy to do it's over there something is difficult to do it's over here low ability high ability if, they have sufficient motivation, and sufficient ability they cross, this red threshold, and if, and only if a trigger is present the behavior will occur every. Single time online. Offline your, behavior, your customers, behavior kids behavior, every. Click everything, that you want a user to do has, to always have sufficient, motivation, ability. And a trigger every, single, time if the behavior is not occurring it's, only because of one of these three reasons okay. A lot, more depth to going to around this you can check it on the book later but, the third part of the hook is the reward phase. The. Reward phase is where the users itch is scratched where, they get what they came for now, when we talk about rewards. We have to talk about the brain and in. Particular, an area of the brain that's called the nucleus accumbens which, is first study by two Canadian, researchers, the name olds, and owner and olds. And Milner had these fascinating, experiments. Where they connected, electrodes, to. The brains of lab animals and they, gave these lab animals, a little clicker to, push on and every, time they pressed on the clicker they would receive an electrical, jolt to this part of the brain they. Observed that these lab animals, would run across painful. Electrified, grids they, would forego food and water just to continue to activate this part of the brain again, and again and again in, later. Experiments, done on people when people were given a little button to press on and every time they pressed on this button they would receive an electrical jolt to their nucleus accumbens some. Of the people in these studies had to have the machines forcibly, removed, from them to, get them to stop pressing on these buttons, now. It turns out we don't need to put electrodes in people's brains to activate, their nucleus accumbens in, fact your, nucleus accumbens is activated, every single. Day with. Things like junk food money. Sex, certain, chemicals, and of course our technology. All, of these things activate, the very same, part of our brains the nucleus accumbens now. For, decades the. Psychology, community believed that, the purpose of the nucleus accumbens was.
To Stimulate pleasure, right, why else would lab animals and later people incessantly. Activate, this part of the brain if it wasn't because it made them feel good right not. Exactly it. Turns out the way the brain gets us to act is not by making us feel good per se it's. By creating, what's called the stress, of desire, this. Wanting. This craving reflex. Because. As we see from these fMRI studies, the, nucleus, accumbens becomes. Most active. In. Anticipation. Of a. Reward but. When we finally get the thing we want this thing that's finally gonna make us feel good that's, when the nucleus accumbens becomes, less. Active. So. The way the brain gets us to act is by creating this itch that we seek to scratch, the. Anticipation. Of a, reward and. It turns out, that. There is actually a way, to. Supercharge. This, reflex, in fact. I can, teach you a way to. Manufacture. Desire. Does. Anybody want to know how to manufacture, does. Anybody. Curious. I'm, doing it to you right now. So. When I took that little pause over there I waited. All of five seconds, right but. Some of you perked up why. Do you stop talking what's, he gonna say next what's the answer to the question and it, turns out that bit of mystery, that bit of unknown causes, us to engage it, causes us to focus and it is highly habit-forming. It's. Called a variable, reward, this, comes out of the classic work of BF Skinner the father of operant conditioning he took these pigeons he put them in a little box and he gave them a disk to peck at and, he. Taught these pigeons very quickly to, learn to peck at the disk to receive a reward a little food pellet, whenever, they were hungry note, that, if the pigeon was not hungry, this experiment, didn't work if the, pigeon did not have the internal, trigger of hunger they, wouldn't peck at the disc but, as long as the pigeon had the internal trigger of hunger and, would. Peck at the disc they would receive a reward that's called operant conditioning terrific it's like training a puppy, but. Then skinner had a little problem you see Skinner ran, out of these food pellets and so. One day he couldn't give up the pigeons appellate everytime he could only give the pigeon a pellet once in a while so, sometimes the pigeon would peck at the disc no. Food treat no reward the, next time the pigeon would peck at the disc they would receive a reward and what, Skinner observed, was at the rate of response, a number of times that these pigeons pecked, at the disc increased. When. The reward was given on a variable. Schedule, of reinforcement, why. Does this happen because, variability. Spikes, activity, in the nucleus accumbens creating.
This Desirous, response, this wanting, reflex, and so, in all sorts, of products both online and, off you. Will find these three types of variable. Rewards, rewards. Of the tribe rewards. Of the hunt and rewards. Of the self let me introduce these to you briefly rewards. Of the tribe are things that feel good that. Have this element of variability, and come, from other people, okay so the, search for empathetic. Joy feeling good because someone else feels good partnership. Cooperation, competition. All of these things feel, good have, this element of variability and come, from other people best. Example online is of course, midea right when you open up Facebook or Instagram you're. Never quite sure what you are going to find what do people post what. Video might you see what are the comments going to say how many likes does something get high. Degree, of social variability. The. Next type of variable reward is called rewards, of the hunt, rewards. Of the hunt are all about the search for material. Possessions for, food and for in modern society, we buy these things with money so. When many people think of variable, rewards they think about slot machines where, the variable, reward is what you might win when you play one of these games of chance interestingly. Enough, we see the exact, same psychology. At work online, consider. The feed have. You notice how everything, these days has. A feed why. Does everything today have a feed well, let's look at LinkedIn for example K so LinkedIn you, open up LinkedIn and maybe the first story's not that interesting seconds. Not that interesting but maybe the third or fourth is interesting, and what, do you have to do to, see more interesting content we need to do scroll. And that's, scrolling. And scrolling use, the exact same psychology. As pulling on a slot, machine both. Variable, rewards of the hunt searching, for, that information reward. Finally. The last type of variable, reward is called rewards, of the self rewards. Of the self are all about the search for intrinsic. Rewards. It's not about the search for material, possessions or, information, rewards we're not even necessarily looking for social rewards, it's about things that feel good in and of themselves, best. Example online is game play right, when you play candy, crush or Angry Birds or whatever you're not winning, anything in terms of material possessions you're, not even necessarily playing it with other people but, there's something fun and exciting about getting to the next level the next accomplishment. The next achievement I, know. Everybody here we're all very serious business people right we don't play these games do we well. If you're anything like I am you play this game every. Day. Just. Look familiar, your. Email inbox the mother of habit-forming technology. Right that uncertainty, around what you might find when you open your inbox or your to-do list or checking. That one app notification. So you can clear it away are all. About the search for mastery. Consistency. Competency. And control. Rewards. The self now. The purpose, of these variable, rewards, is to scratch, the users edge to give them what they came for to make their lives better in some way but, also to leave this bit of variability, this bit of uncertainty. Around what, they might find the next time they, engage with the product or service which. Finally leads us to the last step of the hook the investment, phase the. Investment, phase is probably the most overlooked. From the companies that I work with this is probably the most overlooked, of the four steps of the hook and where, I see the most potential, opportunity, the.
Purpose Of the investment, phase is to increase. The likelihood of the, next pass through. The hook, investments. Do this in two ways the. First way is by loading, the next trigger, loading, the next trigger something, the user does to. Bring themselves back, okay, not some piece of spammy. Advertising. Or messaging, not something from you something, that they did, to, initiate, a trigger reaching back out to them let me show you what I mean when, you send someone a message on whatsapp more. Slack or any number of other messaging, services when you send someone that message there's. No immediate gratification right. No, points, no badges, nothing really happens. When you send someone that message but. What you're doing by investing, in the platform, and sending that message is that you are loading the next trigger because you're likely to get a, reply. And that. Reply comes, coupled, with what's. This notification an example of an. External. Trigger that prompts, you through the hook once again okay. That's, the first way that investments, increase the likelihood of the next pass the. Second way is by, storing. Values, storing, value is a really. Big deal that's why I love, working in tech as opposed to hardware. Or physical goods is. That everything, in the physical world everything, made out of atoms as opposed to bits. Depreciates. With wear and tear right these chairs these tables like all my clothes everything. In the physical world loses. Value, with. Wear and tear. Habit-forming. Products, however do. The opposite, they don't depreciate, they. Appreciate. And value they, get better and better the, more we, engage with them and they do this because of this principle I call Stu, bored value, let me give you some examples the more content, you upload, to your Google Drive or Dropbox the, more valuable, it becomes as, your, cloud storage solution the. More data you give to a company like mint.com the, more data, you give the service the better it becomes for you it's crafted, it's personalized, based on the data you give the company, the. More followers somebody, has right, so on Twitter the more followers you have it's a better way to reach your audience so if tomorrow Twitter were to say hey everybody we're, real sorry but Twitter is not free anymore, okay you have to start paying for Twitter who's, gonna pay is it gonna be someone with ten followers or ten, thousand followers of course, it's gonna be the person with ten thousand followers because they've stored all that value, in the form, of their follower count and finally. Reputation, reputation is a form of stored value, that, users, can literally, take to the bank because. My reputation on up work or eBay or Airbnb dictates. What I can charge for my goods and services and how. Hard, is it to leave, once. I've stored all that value even. If a better product or service comes around it's, kind of hard to leave it's all of a sudden very sticky because, I've accrued, I stored value in the, form of my reputation. Which. Brings me to this coal with hard conclusion, that. We in the product development community, have been told a lie, we've. Been told that the best product, wins and that's. Not necessarily, true, having. A great technology is table. Stakes Silicon. Valley and Silicon Alley graveyards. Are full of, companies, that had the best technology, it's. Not necessarily, the best technology, that wins it's the product that can capture the monopoly, of the mind the first to mind solution, that we turn to that's.
The Product that captures the market and it's, through successive, cycles through, these hooks triggers action rewards and investment, this is how customer, preferences, are shaped how, our tastes are formed and how our, habits take hold so. If you're building the kind of product or service that requires unprompted. User engagement if you want people to come to your product and service not because they have to but because they want to you've. Got to be able to answer these five fundamental, questions of number one what's, the internal, trigger that, your product, is addressing, what's. The external, trigger that prompts them to action what's. The simplest behavior, done in anticipation of reward is the, reward fulfilling, and it leaves the user wanting more and then finally, what's, the bit of work done to increase the likelihood of the next pass through, the hook now. Before we take questions there's, one more thing I want to discuss which. Is the morality, of manipulation. I know. What that nervous laughter is about, that. I'm sure many of you, as. I was giving this presentation were thinking yourself is this kosher. Is this alright to do to people to use their hidden psychology, to change, their behavior and if, you had that thought I say Bravo this is incredibly, powerful stuff, and we, need to be very honest, with ourselves about how we are applying these techniques, design. Is the art of manipulation. Let's, be honest with ourselves anytime. We are changing, people's behavior to. Meet our interest. Particularly commercial. Interests folks, that, is manipulation. Now. Manipulation. Has two forms, we. Have persuasion. On one end and we, have coercion, at the other end. Persuasion. Is helping people do things they want, to do that improves, their lives things, that they will be happy they did, coercion. Is getting. People to do things they regret doing. Things, you wanted them to do that they didn't want to do we. Always want to stay on the side of persuasion, coercion, is always, unethical. So. We need to be very careful, about how we use these techniques because these are the technologies. That people take to bed with them every, night it's, the first thing they turn to in the morning before they even say hello to their loved ones so we have to ask ourselves what, responsibilities. Do we have to, use these techniques, for good and I. Believe that we can use these techniques to help people find meaning, to improve, their lives to help them live happier, healthier more, productive lives and to, show you I put my money where my mouth is I want to tell you about a company that I invested in a few years ago this, company is called seven cups I got, a call a few years ago by a guy by the name of Glen Moriarty Glen is a psychotherapist. Who lives in Virginia Beach and I do these office hours every week every Thursday I have an hour of office hours where people call me up in 15-minute increments and they ask me anything they want you're welcome to to sign up as well so Glen calls me a few years ago and he says hey I read book not. Technical, at all but, I got a team together and here's the hook that we built he. Says I'm as a therapist, I know that, far too many people in my community don't, get the help they need, parents. Who have a child with a disability. Soldiers. Who come back with PTSD or, just any one of us who's feeling lonely and needs someone to talk to they. Open this app the internal, trigger is feeling lonely seeking connection, that's the internal, trigger the, action is to open this app for, no money you're instantly, connected, with another person, ready to listen the, variable, reward is rewards of the tribe it's another person ready to help and the, investment, phase and here's where it gets really interesting the investment, phase every. Time you call 7 cups you use this app to be in touch with someone you, are trained, how to be a listener, yourself, to, help others and it, turns out that people who use this service get, better, in fact they get dramatically, better this free, app was. Evaluated, by a third-party Journal. Academic. Journal found, it was as effective as traditional.
Expensive, Psychotherapy. This. One app services. 800,000. People every week in a hundred and 40 languages talk. About the tremendous, power of using, habit-forming, technology. For, good and with. That allow me to borrow from the words of Gandhi and ask you to build the change you. Wish to see in the world thank, you very much. Before. I do I have one favor. To ask I would love to hear what you thought of the presentation, I'm constantly tweaking it based on your input if you, go to this URL opinion. To us not calm its opinion to us, very. Short survey if you have an iPhone you can just point out the QR code with your camera and it'll, take you to that URL would love to hear what you thought just a quick 30 second survey if you click Submit, it'll, take you to my SlideShare. Page they'll give you a link to my SlideShare page where, you can have all the slides you just saw if you, work in an enterprise, focused, product I think. Most of you are working on consumer facing stuff but you if you work an enterprise you can find the exact same presentation, but instead of talking about Twitter and Instagram and these consumer, facing apps all, the examples are Enterprise, examples. Look for that presentation that says hooked in the enterprise.