Could This Wristband Zap Your Bad Habits?

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Pavlok)

Meet Pavlok, a new wearable device aimed at helping you be your best. Like a canine shock collar for human arms, it works by creating an invisible fence around your darkest impulses, to protect you from yourself.

As the New York Times reports, the maker of the $199 gizmo claims the Pavlok can break bad habits in five days by leveraging the power of negative Pavlovian conditioning:

Next time you smoke, bite your nails or eat junk food, one tap of the device or a smartphone app will deliver a shock. […] It can be set between 50 volts, which feels like a strong vibration, and 450 volts, which feels like getting stung by a bee with a stinger the size of an ice pick.

You might think a person would need more willpower to electrocute himself than he would need simply to not gnaw his cuticles. You would be wrong. One happy customer told the Times she was powerless against her midnight Cheez-It benders until the Pavlok jolted her into shape:

“I’ve already lost 18 pounds and maintained my diet more consistently than ever. Even more amazing—I rarely even think about snacking at night anymore.”

Amazing indeed. And an elegant solution provided you have just one minor habit to quit.

For those of us whose unsavory behaviors are multifaceted and severe, I suspect the Pavlok would make for a cumbersome companion. What are you going to do, tap a button every single time you enjoy a Justin Bieber song, or use poop emojis in emails to your boss, or wear that men’s fedora your spouse insists is “more suitable for a street mime”? No. Too tedious. More efficient to sit yourself near a wall socket and hold a pinkie in place.

Or you could try the actual tips below:

• The Quickest Way to Form a New Habit
• 5 Bad Habits Sapping Your Energy—and How to Break Them
• Proven Tricks for Maintaining Positive Habits

Readers: have you had success changing habits? Should we all just download the Bieber album?