Informations and abstract
Keywords: Social Networks, Cognition; Evolution; Traps; Cognitive Traps; Addiction Design; Digital Over-Consumption.
The article provides an explanation of the current success of social platforms from a cognitive-evolutionary perspective. On the one hand, some elements that make them particularly attractive to users – and that therefore may be considered as intrinsic (or endogenous) to these sites – are identified. For instance, the ability of social networks to provide us with an enormous amount of information about our social circle seems to be a salient element. This is because, in our evolutionary history, the possession of such information offered advantages in terms of survival. On the other hand, it is possible to identify some technical expedients often implemented by these platforms (e.g. the randomisation of rewards, the construction of an infinite newsfeed) that try to “captureµ users’ attention and that can be described as cognitive traps. These traps are exogenous elements, namely they are not part of the intrinsic nature of these platforms but are implemented through specific design choices for economic reasons.