I’ve often joked with my friend Dana that I’m going to start paying her to follow me around and slap delicious treats out of my hand when she sees me snacking or straying from my diet. And although Dana has only taken that (oh so comical) opportunity to help me out once – it looks as though she can already be outsourced. How you ask? Well, with a slightly more painful, slightly less funny option: The Pavlok
As the name suggests, the $199 Pavlok, worn on the wrist (like many other devices on the market), uses the classic theory of Pavlovian conditioning (think Pavlov’s dogs) to create a negative association with a specific action. So next time you smoke, bite your nails, or go take a bite out of a delicious donut in the break room – think twice – because you may just be one tap of the device or your smartphone’s app away from being delivered a shock to tell you “NO!”
The zap lasts just a fraction of a second but can be set between 50 volts and 450 volts. (By comparison, a police Taser typically releases about 50,000 volts.) It’s an expensive spin on the idea of wearing a rubber band around your wrist that you snap every time you go to do a certain behavior you want to stop.
Though the practice of aversion therapy has been around for 80 years. Researchers have questioned the ethical nature of shock intervention, especially when more comfortable options like behavioral therapy, pharmaceutical intervention, and 12-step programs are available. Despite the potential for pain and the lack of science backing a long-term effect, user feedback on Facebook groups and message boards has been enthusiastic about the device, especially as a last resort for problems like overeating and binge drinking.
So, what do you think? Would you be willing to rewire your bad habits through a shocking new device???