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We are hard-wired to be info junkies

March 25, 2008

There’s a good piece in the WSJ about research conducted by Irving Biederman, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California.

His research has found that we crave information, just like we crave food. If there’s lots of information to look at and digest, we seem hard-wired to enjoy wallowing in it. This explains why fundamental disloyalty and clicking away from a site to something else is so attractive to us.

It suggests that the experiences we create for brands should be multi-dimensional and give the user more control, rather than something that’s tightly edited.

It appears that we are happiest when we roam and don’t want to be boxed in.

“In other words, coming across what Dr. Biederman calls
new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction
that makes us feel good, which in turn causes us to seek out even more
of it. The reverse is true as well: We want to avoid not getting those
hits because, for one, we are so averse to boredom.

It is something we seem hard-wired to do, says Dr.
Biederman. When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we
are junkies for those. You might call us ‘infovores.’ “

For most of human history, there was little chance of
overdosing on information, because any one day in the Olduvai Gorge was
a lot like any other. Today, though, we can find in the course of a few
hours online more information than our ancient ancestors could in their
whole lives.”

Posted by Ed Cotton

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