Friday, July 08, 2005

Slate reviews Toothpaste for Dinner

Image hosting by Photobucket

"It's an exercise in virtual behaviorism: Like rats in a Skinner Box, we click and get an instant reward. Even its inconsistency makes it more clickable; it's an old chestnut of behaviorism that the best way to cause an addiction is not through consistent payoff but through what psychologists call a "variable ratio schedule"—a powerful reward (food pellet, good joke) unpredictably dispensed. This is why slot machines are like crack and why we spend all day checking our e-mail. Toothpaste for Dinner gives you a perfect moment on the eighth click, then the second, then the 12th. It's a slot machine of comedy: If you laugh once, you have to keep clicking until you win again."