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Hooked- Book Review

3 May 2023
Dr. Moria Levy
book cover

"Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" is a book originally written in 2014 but edited and updated again in 2019. The book was written by Nir Eyal, a consultant, and lecturer at Stanford University. Of course, although not excellent, it is possible to understand its roots. The book presents a model developed by Nir Eyal for developing products that sent us to get caught – to return to their use repeatedly. The purpose of the model is to link the user's need to the supplier's advantage in a way that is frequent enough to create a habit.

The book is based on a combination of studies in user behavior and a close examination of successful products. It teaches a lot and is written fascinatingly. It is also relevant for product developers, for anyone involved in systems, for changing habits in the organization, and for all of us as consumers.

A book worth reading and a writer worth following.

Introduction: Habits

What is a habit?

Automatic behavior following situational cues. Things we do (almost) without awareness.

A foot is one of the brain's ways of learning to perform complex behaviors; They produce shortcuts in the brain that allow quick action with little or no cognitive effort.

Examples: taking a cigarette, scratching a wound, checking whether mail has been received, or opening Facebook to check for updates.

And what do we care about habits?

Creating a habit of using the product makes us depend on it.

Habit creates a competitive advantage for the product, increases ROI, and allows it to succeed and survive for an extended period; habit gives a high economic value to the provider.

By implementing usage habits, suppliers succeed in changing our behavior and, as a result, who we are.

Why should it be challenging to create a new habit?

First, because the product needs to meet our needs (do us good or relieve pain);

Secondly, because we have existing habits, and they are not easy to change;

And third, it is required that we use the product frequently (at least once a day) to make it easier to create the habit.

Notice: A habit is not an addiction, and the difference is measured by whether the use of a product is harmful or beneficial to the user.

Create a helpful product and, if possible, one you'd like to use too. If you meet these two conditions, you are fine, morally and probably financially.


Habits are not born out of thin air. They are based on stimuli that motivate people to action.

Objectives of stimuli:

• Bring in new users

• Deepen and expand the scope of use

• Bring through users, more users

There are two types of stimuli:

External stimuli:

Contain information that directs the user to further action.

Types of external stimuli:

1. Sponsored Publications

Usually used to bring in new users

2. Positive mentions in the press and media

Based on a good image exists and cannot be bought

3. Connections: A friend brings a friend. A user who tells another about the product and the feasibility of its use

Requires building a committed (engaged) user base that is passionate about sharing the benefits of the product

4. Built-in: Reminders and notifications

Keep the user informed and drew them in, reinforcing existing use to create the habit.

Internal stimuli:

Stimuli that associatively link the user's emotions (e.g., hunger, sadness, boredom, helplessness, etc.) to the use of the product. The associations lie in the user's memory, and he is not always aware of them.

The emotions that motivate action can be positive or negative; most importantly, the effective ones are negative.

Building such a stimulus, which connects emotion and product, is not immediate and requires proper thinking and time.

The company aims to analyze the severe deficiency the product can answer and create an associative connection between emotion and use. Such clarification is not straightforward since users do not share it and are only sometimes even aware of it. One of the more common implementation techniques is using personas and analyzing possible uses.

It must associate positive and external stimuli and act on both levels to create the habit. Because an excellent external habit, accompanied by a complete model of both four steps, can produce the internal motivation that causes the user to be hooked and make regular use over time.


Action is what happens following the stimulus. Action is an easy thing to do with little forethought.

To act (according to Fogg quoted in the book), in addition to the preliminary stimulation, two additional conditions are required:


While the stimulus is directed to action, motivation defines the level of desire to act.

The motivation to perform different actions varies between people (e.g., sports), but all people are motivated to:

• Wanting pleasure /pleasure and avoiding pain

• Wanting hope and avoiding fear

• To enjoy social acceptance and avoid rejection.

Therefore, creating habits that appeal to these deep needs has a chance of being more successful 

What will improve our motivation?

The author recommends that we recognize and consider the thinking biases (Kahneman-Cloud of Possibilities- M.L.):

We tend to prefer scarce things (because, indeed, others already wanted them);

We build preferences according to the context (expensive wine will be perceived as tastier);

We stick to one element of the decision and ignore the rest (enthusiastic about promotions, without checking cost);

And we prefer to carry out actions that are already progressing and are already on the way to completing them.


Competence is the additional component that, together with motivation, produces action.

And competence depends primarily on the simplicity and ease of use of completing the operation that is supposed to be performed in the aspects of:

• Time

• Money

• Physical exertion

• Cognitive (thinking) effort

For example, to reduce time and cognitive efforts, many products provide to log in through an existing Facebook user. Thinking about simplicity also refers to specific actions we would like to have as part of the habit – like sharing on Twitter (planning a button), pushing on Google (cleaning the screen), etc.

And if you, as a product planner, are debating where to invest the subsequent improvement in increasing motivation or facilitating competence – the unequivocal recommendation for technology companies is that the ROI is more significant in improving simplicity and ease of use.


At the end of every action, something needs to improve; People should be satisfied, and the user should receive a reward.

Seemingly simple, but only a little since we get used to the awards and get less excited about them over time.

Therefore, a change or renewal is required:

Change – change every time, or once in a while, of the reward.

Renewal – in the nature or content of the reward (varies according to the product)

For example, each day, we will be presented with a different sports practice that fits our program.

The rewards themselves will usually be on one of three levels:

Tribalism: rewards that make us feel accepted, attractive, meaningful, and belong to a group

For example, when you answer a question on Stack Overflow, you feel satisfaction from belonging.

Journey: the feeling of satisfaction from the process of locating valuable information (the hunting process, as the writer says)

For example- when scrolling through Pinterest, you never see the beginning of the following line of photos, which makes you curious and scroll further.

Self: satisfaction with overcoming obstacles and progress.

For example – in computer games, another step is advanced each time.

To plan a good reward for the company:

1. Understand what matters to the user. It.

2. Link the reward to the (deep and rooted) purpose of the product/ action.

Leave the user with some level of independence (who will not feel obligated but wants).


When we succeed in generating stimulation, inducing action, and rewarding in a variable/renewable way, we strengthen our habits. However, to create the habit, the user must invest.

The user's investment can (and probably should) be minor, but it is required to:

1. Leave the previous behavior and move on to the new behavior.

2. Strengthen the user's commitment to the product and its use.

The more he uses it, the more he will want to justify its use (cognitive dissonance).

3. Allow the software to suit the user further and give him more value.

For example, in adapting the music or movies offered to you.

Typical types of investment:

• Content – uploading content by the user (and not just viewing). Content can be text, image, profile data, and more

• Actions to request permanent information – for example, tracking other users (on a social network)

• Investing promotes ideas – by uploading answers or quality content that others will appreciate

• Skill development – learning through performing complex actions in the tool will deepen the user's commitment and reduce his desire to switch to another device (where he will have to relearn how to perform the skill).

Investment highlights:

• The small investments

• Investments are effective: create the stimulus for reuse

(When the motivation is already internal, it is needed to maintain and produce it.)

Tomorrow morning

What do we do tomorrow morning?

If there is already an existing product

1. Identify "devout" users of the product.

2. Analyze what it means to be a "devout" user; Look for their common habit path.

3. Go back and examine what can be improved to create similar habit paths (stimulation, action, reward plus investment) for others as well.

If designing a new product, or new functions

Design a product that helps people and solves a real need (gives meaning to the user).

In search of an idea, ask –

• What problem would I like to be solved for me? What am I missing?

• What am I already doing? I would be happy if there were a more accessible and straightforward way to do it.

• Are there any new technologies that new users have begun to adopt? Does examining the modus operandi of these users reveal new opportunities?

• Can a change in how the users interface with existing technologies make a significant difference in ease of operation?

Build, test, and learn – repeatedly until you can get into habits that "catch."

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