How Corporations Hack Our Minds

Companies want you addicted to their products — and they're using science to get inside our heads. Robert Lustig MD reveals the sinister truth behind your everyday cravings. 🧠🤯

Addicted to technology

Are you feeling hooked on something in modern life? What if these cravings are actually engineered to turn us into addicts? According to Dr. Robert Lustig, corporations have exploited our desire for dopamine — the “reward” neurotransmitter that tells our brains that we want more. The extremes of pleasure, whether it be substances or behaviors — so substances like cocaine, heroin, nicotine, alcohol, sugar — or behaviors: shopping, gambling, social media, internet gaming, pornography, all in the extreme lead to addiction. There is a -holic after each of those: chocoholic, sexaholic, shopaholic, you get it.

Businesses are essentially “hacking our minds.” through technology. Dr. Lustig argues that over the past 50 years, America has become “fat, sick, stupid, broke, addicted, and depressed.” The question is how do corporations sell their products? Video games, social media — these gamified apps and programs are all built to have this addictive quality. There's even a company in Los Angeles called Dopamine Labs, that will introduce variable reward into your app in order to make it addictive.

Industries — especially the food industry — have confused and conflicted pleasure with happiness on purpose to sell their product. Perfect example, Coca Cola's Open Happiness campaign from 2005 to 2015. 10 years. You know why so long? Because it worked. As an example, how about Raisin Bran? "The road to your happy place is paved with raisins and flakes. And pavement." What are they saying there? They're saying if you're fat it's your fault, because you didn't exercise. They didn't say, maybe it's because of the sugar we added to the raisins in the Raisin Bran. And on and on. Playing on our brain’s reward system and health stress system, neuromarketing is changing how we perceive our world and what we buy, and also triggering obsessive behaviors. Children and teenagers are particularly at risk, as this anxiety-driven cycle can damage the brain.

Dr. Robert Lustig, Pediatric endocrinologist says everyone's susceptible to addiction.