The Art of Brain Hacking: A Brief Glimpse Into Messenger Applications

Since their inception, messenger applications have widely been the most used form of communication. Moreover, they have sought the attention of whoever used them. It was the change not only in time but in technology.

The ultimate reward system for anyone animal or thing is the ability to retrieve or attain a reward instantaneous, at any moment in time. Believe it or not, messenger apps such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, and KIK are specially programmed to help stimulate and produce dopamine, or reward signals to the brain. But its success is only possible with mobility. When smartphones were created, this notion became a reality and would soon succeed where AIM would not. It was the change not only in time but in technology.

The fundamental principle of major successful companies is the acronym KISS — not the band (Keep It Simple Stupid). While companies utilize very specialized and sophisticated algorithms, code, or processes to help make their empire grow, every one of those complex functions has one purpose in mind… to appeal to the most basic, simple, and most powerful part of the animal, reward.

What exactly is the reward? There are various definitions of the term. In this instance, we focus on the definition in psychology. A reward can only be a reinforcer if the delivery increases the probability of an intended behavior. In other words, it can be any action taken that we know will produce a favorable outcome that appeals to our appetitive behavior. For example, when we utilize messenger applications, our motivation for communication with others is receiving communication or input back. We write others to attain a response, and that response we hope is favorable. Just like basic behavioral neuroscientists, messenger companies employ associative reward systems to achieve a greater and faster response from the subject… I mean user. Some examples of these “associative reward systems” can be things like auditory noise (phone ringer going off), visual cues (your phones light flashing), or additional functions created by the company to gain more of your attention and more of your time (e.g. emoticons). Essentially, companies are more or less conditioning the user to respond quickly to attain more and more reward, which in turns draws more of the users time, which in turns produces greater return or proliferation of the bottom line (money). The type of conditioned learning in known as operant conditioning, or Skinnerian conditioning, from the scientist who studied this phenomenon.

By increasing the thorough-put or speed at which communication is transmitted and processed, companies can optimize your attention, time, and reward. While there are only 24 hours in a single day, companies work extremely hard at slowly getting its subjects… “dang it, I mean users. There is that silly word again,” to get quicker and better (conditioned) to communicating much more in a shorter time frame. This is a form of what is called, “brain hacking.” As a behavioral neuroscientist, this behavioral task is one of the most widely used tasks or tests, one can use to determine motivation, learning, impulsivity, reward processing, appetitive behavior, or neuronal and behavioral changes going on within the brain. Brain hacking is a very simple term that is used to reference an ability of an individual or group of individuals with the ability to condition another individual or animals brain without them knowing it’s actually occurring. It happens every day and it certainly happens to all of us.

Humans and animals are very talented at exploiting this innate ability or flaw (to some) in others. Regardless of your stance, everyone uses this talent. We exploit people’s flaws (motivation for reward; their appetitive behavior) to get them to do something they normally would never do. We use this tactic most optimally in love and relationships. Each of the named above companies each has their own tactic or draw that hooks their users. Snapchat utilizes their speed, image retention, and superimposition capabilities. Facebook’s Whatsapp messaging application allows its users to communicate anywhere in the world at any time, live video streaming, and instant self-promotion as an appeal.So, what is Kik? Kik messaging a younger demographic to communicate to one another. It allows Kik girls and boys to communicate using its free online app software. It’s more of the wild west application where sex sells and individuals can look up any of its millions of Kik usernames. While that is an appeal, the addition of bot communication has become a thing as well. But bots are for another time.

Today brain hacking has become more widely expressed in the media due to the over-use of smartphones. While the notion of brain hacking has been around for eons, the wide scale unprecedented use of it is getting out of control. So out of control that it is affecting not only how we process information, but our ability to process information.

We are much closer to one another than ever before. The world has become a much smaller place without the ability to attain information at the speed of light, at the palms of our hands. While this technology is powerful and can lead us to do some amazing things, it can also be used for harm. We need to be able to moderate and navigate both of these worlds and know when enough is just enough.

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