Thursday, May 28, 2015

Beware of Self-Hugging

By Jonathan Peters, PhD and Monica Cornetti
May 28, 2015

What causes some employees or customers to engage in a gamified process, while others disengage in frustration? Why is it that some gamification mechanics appeal to some people, but have no effect on others?

People have tried to simplify the human tendency to play, but our willingness to invest time and energy into a process or experience ultimately comes from our core motivators.

Using a rigid scientific protocol, and leveraging statistical and computational methodologies, Stephen Reiss, PhD has identified 16 basic needs that impact our personalities and the choices we make, as well as why we would engage in one activity but not another. His findings have been supported with an expanding dataset of over 80,000 people across cultures on four continents.
Most psychological categorization efforts have attempted to push people into groups, usually the four archetypes from ancient Greek mythology. The Reiss Motivation Profile goes the opposite direction; it demonstrates how, exactly, we are unique from each other, even those within our archetypical subgroups.

Where we differ is the degree to which the 16 core needs motivate us. As you’d expect, we will be averagely motivated in most of them, but we’ll have three or four that highly motivate us, and three or four core needs in which we are below average in our motivation.

The problem is that our motivation profile is so core to who we are, our personalities, and how we make decisions that we have trouble understanding the perspective of those whose profile is significantly different than ours.

This is a problem Dr. Reiss labels “Self Hugging.” He says, not only do we believe everyone should be like us, but that they are like us.

In other words, if a gamification designer is highly motivated by one Motivator, say, Social Contact, and a player is low motivated in the same area, the designer won’t understand why the player doesn’t want to share their experience or knowledge with team members. The designer will view the player as obstinate and cantankerous, when all they really are is low motivated by Social Contact. The player doesn’t want to “play games” with other people.

They’d much rather work on their own and have their own experience with the gamified process.

In gamification design, it is important to realize that you, as a developer and/or player, have different motivations for playing than most of the people you encounter. The problem for the designer is without identifying the motivation profile of you, the designer, and anticipating different motivation profiles of potential players, the designer will not be able to identify why some people engage and others disengage.

More importantly, a gamification designer must identify their own motivation profile so they can anticipate what elements will be missing from their design, where disengagement is likely to happen, and where the strategy is likely to fall apart.

For instance, a designer who is average or low motivated in Expediency won’t anticipate that high motivated Expediency people will game the system. Those players will find ways to “cheat.” However, anticipating this blind spot, a designer can build “cheating” routines into the gamified processes, even reward the behavior as long as the players achieve the end goal for the activity. 

Of course, with all the possible varieties, it would be impossible to create the perfect gamified system. As a designer you must anticipate likely player Motivation Profiles and understand where your blind spots will be.          

The best gamification designers begin by understanding their own Motivation Profiles so that they can anticipate weaknesses in their design.

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1 comment:

  1. It's essential to differentiate between your core reasons for doing what you do and what drive others. This will allow you to figure out why some people will get on board and others won't.