The Psychology of The Button | Summary and Q&A

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April 24, 2015
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The Psychology of The Button

TL;DR

Reddit's social experiment, The Button, has attracted hundreds of thousands of participants, teaching us about the psychology of delayed gratification.

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Key Insights

  • ❓ The Button demonstrates the psychology of delayed gratification in a social experiment.
  • ↘️ Users with lower numbers on their flair gain higher status and bragging rights.
  • 👶 The marshmallow test revealed that children who waited for a second marshmallow displayed better planning and academic performance as teenagers.
  • 🤳 Those with more self-control had a more active prefrontal cortex, while those with less self-control showed activity in regions linked to addiction and pleasure.
  • 🏆 The Button and the marshmallow test highlight the impact of delayed gratification on behavior and decision-making.
  • 🧡 The experiment also shows the wide range of psychological studies that can be conducted within online communities.
  • ❓ The participation in The Button reflects a complex interplay between emotions, logic, and competition.

Transcript

Do you really want to get to know someone? Show them a button and see if they push it. On April 1st, Reddit did exactly that, and since then, hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in what has turned into, essentially, a giant social experiment. And it’s teaching us a lot about the psychology of delayed gratification. The Button is simply ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is The Button on Reddit?

The Button is a page on Reddit with a countdown timer and a clickable button. Users can only click it once, and their flair displays the time they clicked.

Q: How does The Button create a hierarchy of users?

Users with lower numbers on their flair have more bragging rights, indicating they waited longer before clicking. This hierarchy is based on delayed gratification and patience.

Q: What is the similarity between The Button and the marshmallow test?

Both The Button and the marshmallow test involve delayed gratification. The marshmallow test studied self-control in children, offering a second marshmallow if they resisted eating the first.

Q: How does the hot-and-cool system relate to The Button?

The hot system, driven by emotions and temptation, can override the cool system, which is more logical and considers delayed gratification. Some people struggle with self-control due to the hot system being easily triggered.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Reddit created The Button, a page with a countdown timer and a clickable button, forming a social experiment on delayed gratification.

  • Participants click the button, and the timer resets, with a colored flair indicating the time they clicked.

  • A hierarchy of users with lower numbers emerged, showing the desire for delayed gratification and status.

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