Admit it or not, we all have bad habits. Some are more serious than others but we all have them. And knowing they are ‘bad’ for us, we all try at some point in life to get rid of them. Though the ways and the extent to which we try to get rid of bad habits might be different, we all try. Taking things a little further, a company called the Behavioral Technology Group Inc or BTG has come up with an electric bracelet that zaps you if you repeat your bad habits!
You heard that right. Pavlok is an electric bracelet that will either slightly/strongly vibrate or send an electric shock up your arm depending on which setting you choose for yourself. The intensity of the shock can go up to 450 volts, which is quite painful. Whenever you are binging on something you don’t want to, biting your nails or just surfing through social media sites for too long, just a tap on the Pavlok electric bracelet or its associated app will deliver a shock reminding you to snap out of the bad habit.
The bracelet costs about $199 and is the same as many other such devices created to break you out of bad habits. Such as the Lumo Lift posture coach which vibrates whenever you slouch and are not sitting straight. Similarly, the Spire clip-on sensor tracks your breathing pattern. If your breathing is irregular due to stress or anxiety, it sends a notification to your smartphone and vibrates to remind you to relax and take a deep breath. There are many such devices in the market which are more or less similar and used for the same purpose, to break you out of a bad habit.
This electric bracelet is basically a refined form of the ‘rubber band technique.’ The rubber band technique requires a person to wear a simple rubber band around their wrist. Every time you do something negative or wrong, you snap the rubber band on your wrist simply to snap out of the habit or the negative thought and remind yourself that you are trying to make amends, choose a better life and a better attitude. You keep on repeating this technique until the desired behavior becomes an automatic response.
The idea behind this electric bracelet is the ‘aversion therapy.’ The aversion therapy is a form of psychological treatment in which a person is exposed to a stimulus while simultaneously being subjected to some form of discomfort. This conditioning is intended to cause the person to associate the stimulus with unpleasant sensations with the intention of quelling the targeted behavior.
Simply put, negative associations are deliberately created with habits that need to be quelled. Such as covering the fingernails with something that tastes awful so that the next time you bite your nails, you are immediately repulsed. Or like in the case of the Pavlok electric bracelet, an electric shock follows any behavior you want to get rid of. This therapy has been around for more than 80 years and is now being incorporated into gadgets such as the Pavlok electric bracelet.
Maneesh Sethi, the founder of the company and creator of the bracelet said people will either love this gadget or hate it. Because it can send a very powerful and painful sensation in your whole body, not everyone will be positive about it. Using an electric bracelet to zap yourself every now and then is not exactly every person’s idea to quit bad habits.
Nonetheless, the company has sold more than 40,000 units and the community of users is growing strong. Users have shown enthusiasm about this product. A lot of people take it as a last resort to quell bad habits especially habits that are injurious to health such as smoking and drinking.
A lot of users have claimed that this bracelet works. There is no research or science backing those claims yet. Whether this bracelet actually has any substantial scientific explanation for working or just acts as a placebo can only be proved through research.