The Social Psychology Behind Our New Tournament Module
As the sage Paul Revere once said, “The gamers are coming! The gamers are coming!” Ok, so maybe that’s not exactly the phrase he used, but it’s close enough. Gamification, or the use of game mechanics in non-game contexts, has been seen everywhere from ecommerce to social networking. Whether it’s unlocking badges on foursquare, racing against the clock on Gilt or making sure that bar on your LinkedIn profile is completely filled up, gamification is taking hold. And for good reason. It works.
While achieving the coveted title of Mayor at your favorite burrito joint may not seem like the most compelling motivation, the truth is gamification is solidly grounded in psychological mechanisms.
Badges, countdown clocks, broadcasting check-ins, and competitions increase both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, capitalizing on human emotions like pleasure and anticipation and desires like social esteem and approval.
People naturally look to those around them to define their own abilities by comparing themselves with others through Festinger’s social comparison theory. With explicit scores, titles and badges, gamification makes this these comparisons for you.
And think about your favorite game at the arcade when you were a kid, how you watched that metal crane dangle dangerously close to that stuffed animal or high quality plastic watch you just had to have. Why did you spend the equivalent of $20 in quarters for a low quality stuffed animal that you were most likely never going to get? You’re not crazy. You’re just falling victim to sunk costs bias. We humans are pretty loss averse, so when we lose we act irrationally and pull an Energizer bunny and keep going and going and going and going and going and going.
Well, Top Hat Monocle is thrilled to announce our new tournament module! It’s been in private beta for 2 months, but the results so far have been remarkable. Leading up to the tournament, students practice with a question bank. Then, when the tournament goes live, students are intelligently paired with others at their skill level for several rounds. Students win points, race against the clock and at the end of the tournament each student receives their ranking among their classmates. The top 5 students in the class are publicly visible.
Racing against the clock and desire to win are strong principles on their own. Adding a social layer facilitates competition and strongly increases persistence and performance.
The science is there. Social facilitation, comparison theory, sunk costs, loss aversion are not just buzzwords. They’re deeply rooted in human nature and motivation. Gamification is here to stay, and we’re excited to use these principles to motivate and incentivize students to learn, collaborate, and think critically.
Unlocking the prestigious badge of Mayor of Filiberto’s holds a special place in our hearts, but we know we’re about to unlock some serious student potential.
PS Want to set up a Tournament for your class? Schedule a demo to learn how!