Let’s face it, we all have a couple of bad habits. Whether it’s smoking cigarettes, over-indulging in snacks, sleeping in, or biting our nails, some of us have a couple impulsive or compulsive habits that are less than healthy.
And now, Amazon is selling a bracelet that promises to give you a nice kick in the pants—or 350-volt electric shock on the wrist—to keep you in line and literally train you to rid yourself of those pesky issues.
But would you actually pay $200 to voluntarily subject yourself to daily electric shocks?
The Pavlok bracelet pairs with an app on your smartphone and allows you to pick which habits you hope to quit. It then tailors the electric shocks, or “zaptic feedback,” accordingly.
Friends and family can also download the app to track you and can zap you from their own smartphones if you’ve been indulging in those habits excessively.
Eating too much at the dinner table? ZAP! Going for seconds before others have finished their first plate? ZAP! Pulling your hair again? You get the picture.
Masochists will be happy to know that they’ll be able to receive 150 shocks per day from the wristband, with the shocks being roughly equal to walking across a rug and touching a doorknob.
The bracelet—which retails for a hefty price of around $200—is sort of like a Fitbit, but designed along the lines of the Pavlov’s Dog Experiment in which physiologist Ivan Pavlov rang a bell every time he fed his dogs until the dogs associated the sound of the bell with food.
Pavlovian conditioning also forms the basis of aversion therapy, which is used to break people from their unhealthy habits or addictions—and that’s precisely what this “habit conditioning device” is meant to do, according to promotional material from the company.
Pavlok claims that it’s “not just some random wearable that ‘shocks’ you,” but has been “designed with both the latest science and habit change research.”
The website adds:
“Pavlok is a behavior training device that works by utilizing aversive conditioning.
Aversive conditioning is essentially behaviour training that uses negative stimuli and association to help reaffirm a specific action as undesirable.
Using the slightly uncomfortable stimulus of a shock, Pavlok helps train your brain to associate the bad behavior with the uncomfortable stimulus. And after as little as a few weeks of associating the two with consistent use, your brain begins to say: ‘Hey wait a second. Maybe I DON’T like smoking,’ or ‘Hey wait a second, maybe that donut doesn’t do much for me at all’.”
But how have reviewers taken to the device?
It’s been a mix. One user on Amazon who is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict gave the device five stars, hailing the Pavlok for helping him “avoid many relapses.” He explained how airports tend to trigger cravings for booze, but armed with the Pavlok, he managed to avoid any drinks. He explained:
“I repeated this trigger-shock pattern until eventually, seeing or smelling or listening to people drink no longer caused a craving for me. It’s hard to overstate what a relief this was for me.”
Others who had trouble waking up noted that it worked in a way that no other alarm clock could. One user said:
“I was shocked at how fast this worked since I’ve had a hitting snooze problem well over 10 years. I’m excited to use it on my next bad habit!”
A significant amount of users, however, criticized the poor build quality, battery life and unreliability of the device. A reviewer who called themself “The Hopeless Snoozer” explained:
“When it worked, it worked great! Too bad it never worked, reliably anyway, which is a shame because it did make me less groggy trying to wake up.”
What do you think? Would you pay $200 to trade your unhealthy habits for a nice voluntary zap back in line?