How Behavior Gamification Works
March 2, 2022
When you hear the word gamification, it’s often associated with a wordy definition including terms like psychosocial change, socioecological models, triggers and simulations, behavioral makeup, and so forth. The point is behavior change is a highly nuanced and complex phenomenon. It comprises multiple spectra that influence and impose changes in behavior through a range of direct and indirect influencing elements.
Wherever you plan to introduce behavioral alterations, you have to bear in mind the possible long-term and short-term implications of any certain change. With that said, let’s dive into the world of behavior gamification, explore its potentials and limitations, recognize the elements you should consider while following the behavioral gamification approach, and understand how and why this approach is often successful!
What Is Behavior Gamification?
Behavior gamification is a technique that induces a change in any subject’s attitudes and behaviors regarding a certain matter. Before we get into details about behavior gamification, it would help to understand what behavior change is, and consequently how behavior gamification helps instill that change.
Behavior change is the practice of altering preexisting notions or inducing new notions in an individual or a group regarding any matter. It is about learning new behaviors, unlearning old patterns, and making space for new concepts within one’s social and mental framework. Let’s suppose you are assigned the management of an official branch of your company where you notice a particularly short temperament towards some minority groups.
You notice discrimination and a general aloofness that these minorities experience on a daily basis. This discriminatory behavior may stem from historical prejudices, recent incidents, or any other kind of stereotyping. But in the end, this behavior harms your workplace environment, ethical priorities, brand image, and creates inequality in access to endowments and privileges. Bottom line is, a racial slur isn’t something temporary or inconsequential; it is a behavior that can cause recurring damage to your company. Therefore, you need behavioral change to eradicate this behavior.
At this point, you are at crossroads. On one path, you can enforce sanctions and bans on the use of racial or discriminatory slurs along with fines and emotions. This will help you keep a civil environment at your workplace by forcing employees to avoid manifesting their prejudices. However, this kind of attitude change will only be confined within your office walls. It won’t leave a lasting impact on your employees’ behaviors, and they may even disobey wherever and whenever possible. In the end, you may face even a suffocating and possible deviant workplace environment that could become more difficult to tackle!
Okay, so a formal code of conduct is a no-go area. The other path involves behavioral gamification. It’s like those moral folklore tales that adults for generations have narrated to their children to help them adopt positive values and a constructive mindset. In your case, you can use behavioral gamification to establish an inclusive and participatory debate around the matter of discrimination while keeping the mood light and safe for every stakeholder. If we consider racial discrimination, which is a pretty sensitive matter, we need to pick your behavioral gamification tactics carefully, too.
A starting point in deep-rooted behavioral change could be educating your employees on why their current behavior is inappropriate. You can then assign quizzes and other fun activities to gauge their learning.
Once you’re confident your employees have amassed substantial knowledge on the matter, you can instruct them to develop social action plans that align with their current projects and task and also target discriminatory behavior within and outside their workspace. Let’s say you have a software house that has a project dealing in anti-harassment NLP systems. While your teams focus on that project, you can also issue guidelines on creating beta project briefs regarding the discriminatory behavior they are trying to alter. You can assign milestone bonuses, such as new vehicles, fuel upgrades, new postings, or other incentives that are a part of the Corporation Social Responsibility paradigm. This way, your team will learn the theory and practice of new behavior through gamification.
This will also be more effective than plain enforcement of a new behavior because your employees will learn why their current behavior is toxic and how they can benefit by challenging these existing notions.
So you see, that is how behavioral gamification works. It follows a route that is drastically different from the standard code-of-conduct enforcement by teaching behaviors in a lightweight, participatory manner. This approach still yields the same results, and its effectiveness often surpasses that of other behavior change methods.
How Behavior Gamification Works
Based on the example we have cited above, we can identify a few concepts regarding how gamification brings behavioral change. Here are a few key pointers:
Gamification is Personalized
The first idea is that although behavioral gamification follows generic themes, it provides different experiences depending on the subject’s tendencies. Put another way, gamification of behavioral counseling gives your subjects the freedom to choose how they perceive the challenge at hand without feeling compelled or uncomfortable in any way. When we look at the discriminant discussion above, a gamified reading and research of the concept will help each participant reflect on their personal contributions and accounts of the problem, hence adding color and richness to their experience with gamified learning.
It Enables Real-time Learning
Another way gamification is effective in influencing new behaviors is by offering real-time experiences and instantaneous results of new behavior adaptations. While traditional companies and organizations often focus extensively on written codes of conduct at the time of contract and agreement signing, those codes are largely inert during practical work life. On the other hand, gamification in behavior allows all stakeholders to consciously experience and observe how their behavior is affecting their work and what they need to do to contribute positively to their environment while upholding their codes of conduct.
Gamification Follows the Drip Effect Theory
If you’re unfamiliar with the mass media theory of the drip effect, here’s an explainer; the drip theory proposes that mass media modes gradually disseminate messages that influence behavior. Instead of a powerful, explicit message, gamification acts like a drip and delivers doses in small quantities over a long time period. This also helps the propellers of a gamified narrative to monitor and adjust their gamification methods to accommodate new findings during the process.
Gamification Penetrates Deep Within Phsyco-Socio-Cultural Layers
Behavior basically comprises three parts of a person’s life. Their psychology, their social environment, and their larger culture which comprises politics, religion, philosophy, economics, and so on. While regular company policies are effective in their capacity, they frequently fail to address their limitations and conflicts with unforeseen workplace dilemmas.
On the contrary, behavior gamification is quite effective in helping its subjects explore their behavioral makeup when any issue arises inside their workspace. Behavioral gamification doesn’t have clear-cut objectives that focus on only one aspect of a person’s professional perspective, instead, it deals with a range of cross-cutting issues by addressing them in a nuanced, analytical manner. Gamification in behavioral strategies emphasizes the importance of continuous growth and learning as opposed to setting a pedestal for everyone to blindly follow!
Gamficiation Connects People
Whether it’s about earning rewards or connecting with other people’s experiences, gamification offers multiple connection points to all the subjects and targets within its scope. It helps eliminate boundaries and overcomes barriers while diagnosing issues within an organization and locating key resources to solve those issues.
Behavior gamification is an emerging field in two respects; both psychological and technological fields of study are undergoing a fast-paced evolution, making gamification a pretty diverse and rich field. Whatever the endpoint of this journey is, gamification in behavioral learning will continue to be a multifaceted tool that will help spaces of sorts identify and eliminate issues within their capacity in an effective manner!
Put those insights into practice.
Set your team up for success by improving their performance through gamification.
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