Why Do Scientist Badges Work?

Why Do Scientist Badges WorkIf you’ve ever seen me do any version of a talk on motivational design, you know I’m skeptical about the utility of badges for engagement. It’s not that badges are a bad tool. It’s that they get misused. Programs may award a badge for the wrong behavior. Or the badge may encourage cheating and shortcuts to get the reward. Or, while a virtual badge rarely carries any real value, it might be too much reward for the behavior, eventually leading to lower engagement levels. So, I was surprised to see that an effort to award scientists digital badges displayed alongside their publications in search results was gathering momentum. Continue reading Why Do Scientist Badges Work?

Designing from the User Standpoint (Literally)

Designing from the User Standpoint (Literally)Last weekend, we decided to go for a hike at the nearby Blue Hills Reservation to celebrate the arrival of lovely spring weather. We arrived to find plenty of free parking, a visitor center with clean restrooms, and clearly displayed instructions for hiking trails with varying difficulty levels and lengths. It all seemed great, until we tried to follow the directions to the head of our chosen trail: Continue reading Designing from the User Standpoint (Literally)

How Social Media May Help Curb Con Artists

How Social Media May Help Curb Con ArtistsIf you live in a big city (or maybe even if you don’t), you’ve likely been targeted at least once for a well-known scam. A well-dressed person near a transit center claims to have fallen on very temporary hard times such as losing a wallet and needs cash for a train or bus ticket home. Could you possibly spare $10 or $20 to help out? They’d normally never ask, and they’ll even mail the money back if you can help them out of a tight spot. Maybe you take pity, only to see the same person telling the same story in the same train station the next week. It’s a con. Continue reading How Social Media May Help Curb Con Artists

When Words Disrupt Relationships: Library Jargon and the Collegiate Patron

WhenDisrupt RelationshipsLast week I had the opportunity to speak at the EBSCO User Group, which was such a treat. In addition to the fact that I like to nerd out with people about motivational design, I was pleased to get to hear a few other talks that sparked new ideas for me. One was from Debra Kolah of Rice University’s Fondren Library, whose efforts to redesign the library website with user insights have resulted in a clean, easy-to-navigate resource hub. Kolah (Twitter here) reports jargon was a problem. Continue reading When Words Disrupt Relationships: Library Jargon and the Collegiate Patron

Radical Innovation in the Bathroom

Radical Innovation in the BathroomIncremental innovation improves on existing technology or systems. Historically, the most famous and impactful inventions tend to fall under the category of radical innovation. Not to say incremental innovation is bad–it’s important–but it doesn’t usually change the game. The game changers are the ones that break out of existing paradigms and don’t accept the usual parameters as a given. It’s radical innovation we need when looking at critical issues such as how to hang toilet paper on the roll. Continue reading Radical Innovation in the Bathroom

Motivation and Authenticity: Old Bedfellows

Motivation & Authenticity-For all of my interest in both motivation and authenticity, I was stunned to realize in reading a book about con artists (of all things) that the two have lived side-by-side in psychology for decades. It’s something I should have realized–I was familiar with the work in question–but hadn’t pulled back my perspective in so long that I missed the link. It turns out that Abraham Maslow, best known for the hierarchy of needs that continues to inform work on motivation and engagement, saw an important place for authenticity at the top of the hierarchy, self-actualization. Continue reading Motivation and Authenticity: Old Bedfellows

The Value of Fear

The Value of FearPeople’s natural instinct when confronted with a scary situation is to avoid it. On reflection, most of us realize the downside to running away from fear: Avoidance just intensifies the feelings of anxiety and makes it hard to focus on anything else. (Eric Barker has a nice write-up about facing your fears as a component of emotional resilience in his review of the book Resilience: The Science of Mastering LIfe’s Greatest Challenges.) Of course, avoiding something also means that thing remains undone, which can have negative consequences itself if it’s a needed medical treatment or a critical career builder. Continue reading The Value of Fear

The Forever Fat Kid: Identity and Growth, Part 2

The Forever Fat KidSo you’ve grown up overweight, awkward, unpopular, healthy or not, but now you’ve reached a point where you’re different. And you’re probably struggling to change your self-image and maybe even your behavior. From a health coaching perspective, I think it’s important to consider a person’s history and self-image in planning for future behavior change.

Continue reading The Forever Fat Kid: Identity and Growth, Part 2

The Forever Fat Kid: Identity and Growth, Part 1

The Forever Fat KidPeople change all the time. You can think of life as a process of becoming. But one of the funny things about identity, as a psychological state, is that you retain traces of the person you used to be in the person you are. After thinking of yourself a certain way during the formative times of your life, you internalize that identity, even when  your reality changes. Continue reading The Forever Fat Kid: Identity and Growth, Part 1

How Much Can We Personalize Job Rewards Without Being Unfair?

How Much Can We Personalize Job Rewards Without Being Unfair-I recently read the book The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael D. Watkins. It was recommended to me as a good guide to starting a new position, and while I admired the structured analytical eye the author takes to understand work challenges, I felt it was lacking in an understanding of human behavior. One key area where the advice particularly seemed to deal with people (in this case, the people reporting to a new manager) as theoretical versus human entities was compensation for performance. Continue reading How Much Can We Personalize Job Rewards Without Being Unfair?

Psychology for Health and Happiness