If Then

Why You Can’t Put Your Smartphone Down

A neuroeconomist explains the psychological tricks that apps use to keep us hooked.

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On this week’s If Then, Slate’s April Glaser and Will Oremus discuss some recent tech news, like the head-scratching revelation that WikiLeaks sent Twitter DMs to Donald Trump Jr. before and after the election and a speech by Sen. Al Franken that suggests we should regulate big tech companies more like utilities. The hosts are also joined by Dopamine Labs’ T. Dalton Combs, the co-founder of an interesting and controversial startup whose mission is to help other companies make their apps and online platforms more addictive by playing on our cognitive biases and psychological weaknesses.


Other items discussed in the show:


If Then “Don’t Close My Tabs” recommendations:

Podcast production by Max Jacobs.

If Then plugs:

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment for us, you can email as well at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.