Ever had the experience of checking your email incessantly? You end up checking it numerous times even during an hour? Or do you glance at your blackberry to find new messages? It can almost be addictive for people who sit in front of their computers all day. Psychologists have studied this type of behavior.
Why is email so addictive? It is because of a behavior called Operant Conditioning, which affects learning by attributing consequences to rewards and punishments. In the case of checking emails, we associate both rewards and punishments as well as any underlying consequences to it. As this article stated,
“Email is addictive because it is a variable-interval reinforcement schedule.”
How do we lessen the action-reward link? The article even suggested using a five minute delay for emails. The removal of the check email button can also lessen the stimulus too.
My thoughts on this would be to design some software that would freeze emails for two or three hours at a time. There is software that blocks internet usage for an alloted time designated by the user. What are your thoughts on this?