The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
What makes us obsessively scroll through our phones, or binge-watch Netflix? There’s a fascinating psychology behind our addictive, tech-based behaviors, says ADAM ALTER. A New York Times bestselling author and Associate Professor of Marketing at NYU, Alter investigates the hidden forces shaping our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In the face of our current crisis, he shows us how we can navigate a radically different world—whether that’s through building consumer relationships in digital form, or using tech to our advantage in the new hybrid workplace.
“Irresistible is a fascinating and much-needed exploration.”— Malcolm Gladwell
In his New York Times bestseller Drunk Tank Pink, Adam Alter offered a revelatory look at how our environment unconsciously, yet dramatically, shapes the decisions we make. Rather than being in control of every single one of our choices, we’re powerfully influenced by a laundry list of external forces, often without ever realizing it. Today, it’s impossible to ignore that the whole world has changed, and with it, our environments. Whether temporarily or permanently, COVID-19 has altered almost every aspect of how we live, work, and play. A psychology professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, Alter reminds us that while behaviors do change after tremendous events such as the pandemic, they often change for shorter periods than we anticipate. So what aspects of the “new normal” will stick in the post-pandemic future? In his brilliant, psychology-informed talks, Alter shows us how we can navigate these shifting experiences, both inside the workplace and out, and increase our productivity, happiness, and fulfillment moving forward.
Alter is also the author Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, a groundbreaking study on why tech-based products and experiences are so hard to ignore (or put down). Our obsessions with platforms like Netflix or Snapchat are no accident, but the result of careful work by tech companies and marketers. Alter reverse-engineers behavioral addiction, explaining how we can harness addictive products for the good: meaning better savings, improved communications, and clearer boundaries between work and play, pleasure and business. He has shared his insights on the TED mainstage, delivering a talk that was so popular—one of the top ten of the year—he was invited back a second time. Aside from his bestselling books, Alter has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, WIRED, and Slate, among other publications. He has shared his ideas at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and with dozens of companies, including Google, Microsoft, Anheuser Busch, Prudential, and Fidelity, as well as with design and ad agencies around the world.
In addition to his position at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where he is an Associate Professor of Marketing, Alter has an affiliated appointment with the University’s Psychology Department. He currently sits on the World Economic Forum steering committee, a board dedicated to investigating the risks and benefits of emerging augmented reality technologies. Alter received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of New South Wales and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University, where he held the Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Honorific Dissertation Fellowship and a Fellowship in the Woodrow Wilson Society of Scholars.
“Adam Alter was engaging across demographics: from High School to Med School to the community at large. His message resonated. His delivery is endearing, informative, and engaging. His topic is critically important and his approach is informed, balanced, empowering, and relatable. From an event planning perspective, Adam was a sincere pleasure to work with.”University of Nevada—Reno, Division of Health Sciences
“Our experience with Lavin and with Adam was once again, excellent. We've had very strong feedback from the audience on the keynote, and Adam was a dream to work with prior to and at the event. He was very generous with his time in advance of the event in making sure that he understood the audience, which is critical.”International Retail Design Conference
“Adam was amazing as the closing keynote for the GMAC conference in San Francisco! He clearly heard us during our prep call and incorporated what we talked about in his presentation. His talk was not only interesting, engaging, and fun, it was completely relevant to our audience. It was the perfect way to close out the week and send people back to their offices with tips they can implement immediately. He was a delight to work with and I will definitely keep him in mind for future speaking engagements.”Graduate Management Admission Council
Why do people return to some ideas, products, experiences, and brands over and over again, while others fade from memory and interest almost immediately? In his new book on behavioral addiction, Adam Alter investigates what separates the irresistible from the forgettable. The answers draw from a broad range of case studies and research—from as far afield as the world of video game design and television script writing to app design and digital advertising. The answers apply broadly to all forms of business, from online and digital product development to consumer sales, packaged goods, services, politics, medicine, and law. Why, for example, did Instagram succeed while Hipstamatic, a very similar earlier app, failed? Why do people play the lottery despite losing time and again and facing impossibly long odds? Should you release upbeat products when the economy is thriving or when times are tough? Alter answers these questions and more in a keynote that explains the sharp divide between the instant sensation and the forgotten disaster.
How do even the smallest environmental cues affect our behavior? How does the world around us—the weather, colors, geography and location—affect our moods and social interactions? Adam Alter offers a groundbreaking look into the complex relationship between environmental features and our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Humans respond emotionally, physically, and mentally to the shifting world around them. The names we assign, the language we use, and the symbols and images we deploy all affect how we behave as well. Alter examines it all, delivering a fascinating overview of why we do what we do. He breaks down our cognitive responses to external influences, showing the effects that are driven by small cues. How are these cues cognitively processed? Where do they reside in our consciousness? Alter offers thoughts on how leaders, policymakers, and smarter organizations can change conditions, and create more cognitively healthy environments—and healthier human beings.
In this talk, Adam Alter explores how businesses can better understand and predict the behavior of their customers. He begins by explaining why we often misunderstand how customers think, and then goes on to describe how they actually make purchasing decisions. How do they decide whether a new product will be valuable? How do they choose among a set of brands? How can companies present choices and options to maximize the appeal of their products? Having explained the features of consumer psychology, Alter presents a series of interventions that enable companies to communicate with customers more effectively and compellingly.
What really goes on inside the mind of a potential consumer? Why do people buy and engage with some products, services, and ideas, while they overlook others? Drawing on his best-selling book, Drunk Tank Pink, as well as the science of behavioral economics and human decision-making, Adam Alter exposes the roots of consumer behavior. Why does the color of a product and its brand logo shape sales? Why does a product’s name sometimes make the difference between success and failure? Why should you open a new sales relationship with some words and sentences while avoiding others at all costs? And how does the layout of a website (or a retail space) drive or stifle sales? These are the questions all savvy marketers and designers need to answer when searching for success.
“Each of us is an ongoing product of the world within us, the world between us, and the world around us.”