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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  8,391 ratings  ·  1,056 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
Kindle Edition, 364 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Penguin Press
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Mario the lone bookwolf
There are 2 categories of people, conservative technophobes and neurologists, doctors, and brain scientists, who are ironically coming to a similar conclusion: having the very strong, over millions of years developed social reward and group dynamics systems condensed in a tiny machine for 24/7 use, is a dangerous and for many people life assimilating option, opening space for the ultimate misuse of a technology that could be used for education,work, and reading is instead turned in a hedonism bo ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit, the book was quite irresistible, once I got started.

I couldn't put it down.

After finishing it, I had to ask myself why. There was nothing new in it. Nothing I didn't already know or experience every day with my young students. Social media and internet addiction are so widespread, they are almost normalised.

What made me feel hooked to the book was rather that I recognised myself in so many of the behaviour addiction patterns. I am not addicted to Facebook or World of Warcraft
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☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
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  ·  review of another edition
How I Ditched My iPhone (pretty funny)

"My symptoms were all the typical ones: I found myself incapable of reading books, watching full-length movies or having long uninterrupted conversations."

“Distraction, rather than being occasional and derivative, becomes perpetual and primary. Rather than being a diversion from the main thing you do, it becomes the main thing you do.”

-The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace: Boredom and Addiction in an Age of Dis
Jun 08, 2017 added it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book is redundant and boring and is oversold. It is not what it says it is. It's basically a review of a bunch of addictions and then it tacks on some doom and gloom about the internet. But it's not new science and there isn't much in the way of analysis or solutions. skip it ...more
Kath ❅
A really interesting yet short read about how technology has changed to keep us hooked as the technology has become more mobile and ever present in our lives.

I wanted to read this book because recently I have been trying to step away from my phone more and be off the internet more because I have found it to stress me out. I recently deleted Instagram, which is the only social media I had. It is a decision that I have not regretted for a moment. I thought this book may help me flesh out ideas of
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a really great read from the library. The beginning was slow because it goes into the history of addiction from a psychology perspective, but it picked up a quarter of the way in. As someone who has a love/hate relationship with technology, I could relate to the addictiveness of devices and apps. I enjoyed the origin stories of some of the most addictive games and apps, as well as some of the experiments described.

Even though I try to stay away from pop-psychology books and I thought th
Sarthak Pranit
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think about this: The people who create the devices do not let their children play them. The people who create the games we love get addicted to playing them. Our brains betray us everyday by allowing big businesses to use us like rats in a maze to get rich. If those ideas concern you, then read this book. This book was well written and interesting. I appreciated how the author added many interesting tidbits about games, the people who created them, and some history about how they were created. ...more
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Cyrus Carter
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ... ...more
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
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ren (A Bookish Balance)
3.25/5 stars

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked is a non-fiction novel exploring what causes individuals to become addicted to screens, how this addiction effects their lives, and what can be done to prevent these additions or deal with them.

I’d argue that Irresistible is more a novel that focuses on what addictive behaviour is and how its dealt with, screens just seem to be the main example used in the novel. There are a lot of interesting points
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SOOOOO FASCINATING! I love learning about how things work, so this book was perfect!!! I loved every part of it.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book with lots of interesting stories and experimental evidences on what makes experiences addictive and how profitmakers specifically design their products to manipulate our worst tendencies. I think this is a must read in our digital age. The world of immersive experiences is still in its infancy. If the world is already struggling to cope with reduced attention span and the compulsion to unlock our phone 50 times a day (a number on the lower side), I wonder if we are prepared for th ...more
Nelson Zagalo
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?" (
Jeff Wheeler
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been working through this book for over a month. It’s made me rethink social media and how I use my smart phone. Even more, it reveals how severely tech has impacted society. I saw this in abundance recently in Beijing on the subways. What China is doing about tech addiction is eye opening and more than a little scary. It’s made me glad we’ve been very restrictive with our kids. Worth a read. Even more, worth it for the self evaluation.
Bon Tom
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and insightfull. I think I would give it to my child as required reading before buying her the first gadget.

Second reading: This is really good. Essential reading for this day and age.
Shilpa Thakur
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No other book has taught me as many things as this one.
The book follows a step by step approach to explain behavioural addictions. It touches upon multitude of topics like substance addiction, binge watching, exercise addiction, social media addiction, gamification, virtual reality etc. It is full of anecdotes, analogies, experiments and research findings. I didn't find the pace of the narrative drop at any point.
Pick up this book at a leisure time and start incorporating its suggestions in your
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Very interesting book that illuminates the dark side of technology. As I listened, I thought about how I use technology and some ways I should change my approach. Although I initially borrowed this audiobook from Scribd, I've since purchased it so I can listen again. Highly recommended. ...more
Camelia Rose
There is a reason that Silicon Valley CEOs restrict their kids to use technologies they invented. As a mother and an engineer who makes money by building (hopefully) addictive software, I know perfectly well what that reason is.

This book is a summary of what and how modern technologies fuel addictive behaviour. We are in an epidemic behaviour addiction—Internet, gaming, gambling, shopping, fitness addiction, eating disorder, work addiction—you name it. Any activity can become addictive. It will
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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

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