Fishes Aren’t the Only Things Hooked

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Book Summary

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, written by Nir Eyal, provides a glimpse into the psychological side of marketing by examining how successful companies such as Amazon, Google, and Twitter created habit forming technologies by influencing human behavior. “Instead of relying on expensive marketing, habit-forming companies link their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions” (Eyal, 2014). Eyal defines habits as, “[B]ehaviors done with little or no conscious thought (automatic responses) […] and one of the ways the brain learns complex behaviors” (Eyal, 2014).

According to Eyal, these companies followed a four-step process known as “The Hook Model.” This model could alter user-behavior and create unprompted user engagement. The four steps of the hook model are:

  1. Trigger– an internal (associations) and external (environmental) actuator of behavior.
  2. Action– behavior in anticipation of the reward.
  3. Variable Reward- increase in dopamine in anticipation for a reward.
  4. Investment– user’s time, data, effort, social capital or money.

When following the model, companies can create a sense of belonging or community based off the user’s continued investment in whichever application they use.

Eyal also mentions that in order to create habit forming products one must consider its simplicity. “[…] the ease or difficulty of doing a particular action impacts the likelihood that a behavior will occur” (Eyal, 2014). An application could be life altering and overall beneficial for a user, but flop if it requires abnormal changes to behavior or routine.

How can this influence Library 2.0?

As aforementioned in my previous post, in order to shift into Library 2.0, we need to embrace change, even though it may seem disruptive or intimidating. So, how can we recreate the library as the central hub of information where our patrons could invest themselves? According to Eyal, “Users increase their dependency on habit forming products by storing value in them” (2014). By creating memories and experiences for our patrons and community, we can create a greater value for the library and in return, receive their investment. Unfortunately, libraries are limited to visitor access due to the pandemic. Yet this shouldn’t limit their ability to pursue current and future clientele via school visits, online communities, or pop-up libraries. In a sense, bringing the library to you! Which falls in line with his concept of simplicity. Eyal states, “You have to actually want to use your product and believe it materially benefits your life as well as the lives of your users” (2014).

Why I read Hooked

Due to having a background in behavior psychology, a guilty pleasure of mine is reading how companies and products boom. Whether it be through a created a sense of association, value, or reinforcement. Eyal’s “Hook Model” was heavily influenced upon the works of B.F. Skinner’s experiments on variability and reward, also known as operant conditioning, along with Albert Bandura’s theory of social learning. Both, fathers in the field of behavior modification. Nir Eyal’s Hooked is similar to Dr. Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On. According to Berger (2013), value is expressed in the form of how the information makes us look to our peers (Social Currency); what cues make people think of the information (Triggers); the feelings invoked by this information (Emotion); the visibility of the information (Public); whether you can use this information (Practical Value); the broader narrative of this information (Stories).


Berger, J. (2013). Contagious: Why things catch on. Simon & Schuster.

Eyal, N. (2014). Hooked: How to build habit-forming products. Portfolio.

One comment on “Fishes Aren’t the Only Things Hooked

  1. Eileen Wu says:

    What an interesting topic! I enjoy learning, too, about how the big companies, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Apple make products that everyone wants to use and have! It takes a lot of insight to make products that get everyone’s attention and makes them want to use them all the time. For libraries to learn from the big tech companies is a good place to start.

Leave a Reply to Eileen Wu Cancel reply

The act of commenting on this site is an opt-in action and San Jose State University may not be held liable for the information provided by participating in the activity.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar