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Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
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Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  3,375 Ratings  ·  515 Reviews
Welcome to the age of behavioral addiction—an age in which half of the American population is addicted to at least one behavior. We obsess over our emails, Instagram likes, and Facebook feeds; we binge on TV episodes and YouTube videos; we work longer hours each year; and we spend an average of three hours each day using our smartphones. Half of us would rather suffer a br ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Penguin Press (first published 2017)
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Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Take it with a huge grain of salt. There are some fun cocktail-party facts and some reasonable suggestions for changing your own habits, which are fine as "hey, why not try it, it might work for you."
It's just not much good as "scientific evidence proves that..."
[For example: Experimental group improved by a "dramatic" 40%, but control group improved by only a "paltry" 30%! ... which actually meant that group A improved by 5 points out of 50, and B by 3 points out of 50! ... which is probably a
☘Misericordia☘  ✺❂❤❣
Q: Why are the world’s greatest public technocrats also its greatest private technophobes? Can you imagine the outcry if religious leaders refused to let their children practice religion? Many experts both within and beyond the world of tech have shared similar perspectives with me. Several video game designers told me they avoided the notoriously addictive game World of Warcraft; an exercise addiction psychologist called fitness watches dangerous—“the dumbest things in the world”—and swore she’ ...more
Canadian Reader
I read as far as the fifth chapter in Alter's book and learned a few interesting things along the way. However, based on what I did read, I found the book's subtitle inaccurate. Huge amounts of the first four chapters are dedicated to substance and behavioural addictions, in general, not "addictive technology" per se. There was interesting information about the importance of context or environment in addiction. Alter provides the example of veterans of the Vietnam war, many of whom used heroin w ...more
Michael Perkins
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having had a few days to think about the implications of this book, it rather confirms what some of us already know and most are in deep denial about-----social media is the realm of the shallow, the ill-informed and the lazy. Critical thinking skills not welcome. Learning and intellectual curiosity not welcome. Knowledge not required. Honesty and truth always in question.

It is our brave new world's soma. It's the drug that does effect our brains and keep us addicted to nonsense and it's a huge
Jun 08, 2017 added it
Shelves: 2017
This is a gutless book.

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked purports to be an examination of contemporary media and their addictive qualities, yet very few of these pages explore any such ground. Rather, Alter parades psychological experiment after psychological experiment after psychological experiment, one after another, again and again, mice pressing levers to receive the orgasm drug, pigeons pecking buttons for food pellets, kittens kept in dar
Atila Iamarino
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Uma ótima análise do que torna muitas tecnologias viciantes. Alter começa o livro explicando sobre vício (por causa dele me interessei pelo The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease), para em seguida passar por como cada tecnologia desperta eles. Como redes sociais, por exemplo, estão todos os dias rodando testes A/B justamente para aumentar nossa retenção nas plataformas. E como praticamente qualquer CEO das empresas de tecnologia não deixam os filhos chegarem perto de celulares, ta ...more
Tara Brabazon
Jan 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely, astoundingly, brain-dripping-out-of-my-ear, dreadful. Once more, a 'researcher' explores digital media and - with little evidence and a lot of hyperbole - locates "The addict in all of us." Supposedly, online pornography, gaming and mobile phones have made 'all of us' addicts.

There is no understanding of the sociology of the internet, footnotes - or even in-text referencing - is absent. The randomness is infuriating. The binge watching of Breaking Bad on Netflix is compa
Andy W
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
My takeaway rhetorical question: does it make sense for a book about technological addiction to be published as an eBook as well as print? Followup: will taking the time to post it to a social media book review website prove or disprove the book's byline?

I went in a believer and left a skeptic. Too many pat conclusions when the research and studies demands more investigations. This felt too much like a repeat of the dire warnings that came with radio, television, and computers changing things fo
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
This book is essential reading. I can't stop thinking about it or talking about it. I particularly appreciate the way the book breaks down what appears to be a wild lack of willpower (I'm looking at myself!) into its component parts of behavioral addiction. I am thinking differently about the consequences of my screen time (and my children's) and about the approaches I take to curb my excess. Well-written, well-researched, well-timed. I will be giving out many copies of this book to family and f ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a pop psych book that has its problems but still has interesting information to offer in an accessible package. I would change the subtitle to “The Rise of Behavioral Addiction in the Digital Age,” which more accurately describes the book’s contents. It is not all about screens – the author discusses exercise addiction frequently – and it is in no way an exposé of the tech industry, as the actual subtitle might lead you to believe. Rather than focusing on how companies suck people into t ...more
Sarthak Pranit
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A clear a crisp attack on Hooked by Nir Eyal.

I picked this book aiming to help me in my own addition towards technology - so yes, I had an agenda. But this beauty really entertained me with some astounding data and a focussed extrapolation of what might become of us if we continue.

'Man's evolution has been hand-in-hand with it's desire to be lazy' - this is a depressing yet awakening fact that we need to realize. As much as people might misuse, abuse or overuse the term 'innovation', it is just
Cyrus Carter
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent overview of addiction itself. No, there is no "addictive personality" but rather we are all susceptible to addiction. Environment, marketing and our own desire to take the easy road play into it. An excellent read for anyone who wants to understand addiction and our willingness to give in. Especially with technology. You know who you are ...
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
For anyone who has checked messages on a smart phone more than 4 times a day this book is for you. For anyone who has spent more than 2 hours a day in front of a computer screen this book is for you. For anyone who has played a video game or an internet game for more than one hour a day this book is for you. For the rest of us this book is a caution, and is quite informative.
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to say that I enjoyed this book, because it is disturbing, depressing, and sad...but I loved it and enjoyed reading it so much. Irresistible was so informative, providing a great context for the world we live in and the one we're on our way to living in. I so appreciate having the curtain pulled back on behavioral addiction, especially how it relates to social media, gaming, and virtual reality. I feel like I can make better decisions for myself and kids regarding technology, preparing ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
SOOOOO FASCINATING! I love learning about how things work, so this book was perfect!!! I loved every part of it.
Peter Mcloughlin
Argues that behavioral addictions can be nearly as dangerous as substance addictions and technology companies are honing their products to have the same hooks and snares to cause a person to invest time and money into their products in the form of apps, games, and social media. If you are finding that hours of time is disappearing down a black hole of screen time it is because these technologies are a devilishly conceived to make you hand over your eyeballs and money to them. If you thought Veg ...more
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Note: the author is a friend and former colleague.

4.5 stars. Like Alter, I study the psychology of human decision making (I'm getting a PhD; I went to undergrad where and when Alter got his PhD, which is how we know each other). The further I get into my studies, the harder of a time I have reviewing popular treatments of the field, because so much of the research presented is often review for me. That's less the case here than with other popular psych books I've read recently, though, because
Allison Hiltz
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction
Originally reviewed at The Book Wheel.

Like most people I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love waking up in the mornings and checking my Twitter feed and the news but I hate how the distraction can make me run late. I love the satisfaction of hitting my step goals but I hate that I feel compelled to log what I eat. I love being connected to other people but I hate the guilt that comes with not responding to something right away. 

These situations are not unique to me but that does
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I find many of the non-fiction books I read unmemorable. I think this is because many of them read as a collection of short essays that revolve around a chapter theme instead of following a cohesive narrative. Irresistible by Adam Alter, which comments on the rise of addictive technologies, follows this random structure.

While there are the occasional interesting idea or story, such as the browser extension "The Demetricator", which removes the number of likes, shares and comments from Facebook
Nelson Zagalo
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book about the social psychology behind the design of interaction of most applications we use everyday in the online world. The book presents some problems, exaggerations and lack of evidence, mostly if you are looking for therapeutic approaches to the addictions of these technologies. I've made a long analysis in Portuguese for my blog.

Podem ler uma extensa análise no Virtual Illusion, "Por que não conseguimos parar de olhar para os nossos Smartphones?" (
Samuel Salzer
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Review: Illuminating read on online behavior and behavior addictions in general. Extremely informative and well-researched book that looks at our increasingly intimate relationship with our screens. Alter argues that many technologies including smartphones have become the panacea to many of our daily problems from boredom to loneliness. This is how behavior addictions arise-short term rewards in form of solving emotional problems lead to a chain of undesired behaviors done despite knowledge of a ...more
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very important book on a topic that I've been thinking a lot about recently. There is a hidden societal cost on our population's obsession with smartphones and social media, that is not talked about and poorly understood. This book explores behavioural addiction, how it compares to previous addictions (like substance addiction) and what causes it. There's a good mix of research and anecdotes in this book, and the book is very easy to devour in a couple days.

I think there's going to be
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating, informative and slightly frightening look at our burgeoning addictions to technology. Looking at why and how this is happening but also suggesting how we can manage it this is a book that everyone who owns a computer, a mobile phone, or a tablet should read. It has certainly made me much more mindful of the way in which I use and the frequency that I use technology. Written in an accessible and interesting fashion that will appeal to the reader this is an important book that makes ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
How do I put it without being offensive? It would be a decent piece of journalism. Not a major one, not a groundbreaking one, but decent.
Instead, it's a boring book about how most of us nowadays spend too much time playing video games and/or on social media platforms. And then how some go to detox programs, and how some work better than others. And we should take better care.
Ah, the time I have wasted.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A startling look at our dependence on technology -- one that hits very close to home!
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I just finished reading the book Irresistible by Adam Alter.  This book looks at our addiction to technology (smartphones, email, gaming, fitness tracking, etc).  It starts by reviewing the research on behavioural addiction (what it is and where it came from), how to create addictive experiences, and solutions for living in a world where abstinence from technology isn't an option.  It's different than the other UX books I've read in that it made me think about the ethics of creating addictive us ...more
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I almost always struggle with assessing that fifth star, and that was the case here. But, this seems an important work even if, at some date not far down the path, some of what Alter has written about turns out to be a bit off the mark. For example, even I gave up "Farmville" as a regular time suck quite some time back. But understanding a bit more about tech addiction and gamification seems an exceptionally useful tool to keep at hand as we pick our way through our own daily activities and watc ...more
Andreea Chiuaru
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Există cărți care pot schimba felul în care privești viața dacă le dai voie să facă asta. Doar că trebuie să aștepți momentul potrivit și să ai deschiderea necesară. Când am citit prima carte despre dependențele comportamentele („Puterea obișnuinței”, tot de la Publica) am tras de mine să o termin. „Irezistibil” am devorat-o. Rar devorez așa cărți de non-ficțiune. Mi-a trebuit un an să o încep, ce-i drept. Dar acum mă uit diferit la mine și la obiceiurile (sau dependențele mele). Și chiar dacă a ...more
Amber Spencer
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Probably 3.5 stars. I enjoyed most of the insights but felt like some chapters were hard to listen to when people advocated for all or nothing, which just isn’t practical. Being aware of our thoughts and time and what we’re drawn to is the best choice.
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Adam Alter is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and the author of Drunk Tank Pink, a New York Times bestseller about the forces that shape how we think, feel, and behave, and Irresistible, a book about the rise of tech addiction and what we should do about it.

Alter was recently included in the Poets and Quants “40 Most Outstandin
More about Adam Alter

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“Walter Isaacson, who ate dinner with the Jobs family while researching his biography of Steve Jobs, told Bilton that, “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.” It seemed as if the people producing tech products were following the cardinal rule of drug dealing: never get high on your own supply.” 5 likes
“It’s hard to exaggerate how much the “like” button changed the psychology of Facebook use. What had begun as a passive way to track your friends’ lives was now deeply interactive, and with exactly the sort of unpredictable feedback that motivated Zeiler’s pigeons. Users were gambling every time they shared a photo, web link, or status update. A post with zero likes wasn’t just privately painful, but also a kind of public condemnation: either you didn’t have enough online friends, or, worse still, your online friends weren’t impressed. Like pigeons, we’re more driven to seek feedback when it isn’t guaranteed.” 2 likes
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