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Dark Patterns


*You’ll need your keyboard at the ready, sorry, no mobiles.*

Social media platforms are not actually designed with your best interests at heart. In fact, they often use tricks called DARK PATTERNS to make you do things that you don’t necessarily want to do. INFINITE SCROLLING is an example of a DARK PATTERN that exploits how your brain works to keep you always wanting more.

When you are scrolling your feed on social media, most of the posts you see aren’t actually particularly interesting. However, occasionally you’ll come across something that peaks your interest and in turn stimulates your brain, releasing the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine. This links the action of you scrolling to a variable reward, only giving your brain that hit of dopamine some of the time. This variable reward mechanism is particularly effective at forming habits as it leaves your brain continuously wanting more, in turn keeping you scrolling and scrolling and scrolling…

This technique of reinforcing positive behaviours and punishing negative ones is called OPERANT CONDITIONING. You may have also come across it before when training your dog, playing video games, or gambling.

What’s more, the act of scrolling also requires less effort than making the decision to click a button. This is why INFINITE SCROLLING is so immersive as it’s much less effort or COGNITIVE LOAD to keep scrolling than to close the webpage or app.Now that you know it’s more than just a matter of self control, you may think twice before casually scrolling your social feed. Afterall, you don’t want to be stuck scrolling forever!

Game Development by Neve O'Neill
Design by Zoe Arlidge-Lyon