Category Archives: Motivation

Making Choices Meaningful: At the Intersection of Competence and Autonomy

What constitutes a meaningful choice for one person may not be meaningful to another. When I presented with Raphaela O’Day at SXSW a few weeks ago, we talked a lot about packaging decisions in a way that made sense to the person making them. This is where competence and autonomy intersect; a choice can’t be meaningful if a person doesn’t have the knowledge or expertise to make it well. Continue reading Making Choices Meaningful: At the Intersection of Competence and Autonomy

A Slightly Less Than Motivating Year In Review: Delta Airlines

Companies that do “year in review” features for their customers can often spark continued engagement by supporting the key psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. By reviewing all of the customer’s activity, showing how it adds up to bigger outcomes, and how the customer is part of a larger community, the reviews can make people feel like their consumer habits were meaningful. I’ve received these sorts of round-ups in past years from Map My Run and Blue Apron and found them engaging. Continue reading A Slightly Less Than Motivating Year In Review: Delta Airlines

The Psychology of Adventurous Eating

The Psychology ofA while back I wrote about a program that uses choice to help picky eaters broaden their palates.  I just finished reading First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson, where she describes a more intensive version of the choice paradigm to help what is know as “restricted eaters” gain comfort with more foods. The basic premise of Wilson’s work is that taste is learned; anyone can expand their food repertoire with practice. Continue reading The Psychology of Adventurous Eating

Engagement Is Everything. (That’s My Excuse.)

Engagement Is EverythingFormer US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop famously said that “drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” (C. Everett Koop also bears the distinction of being someone I confused with Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken regularly throughout the 1980s.) Likewise, it doesn’t really matter how great an experience is if you can’t get someone to engage with it in the first place. Continue reading Engagement Is Everything. (That’s My Excuse.)

Does Group Fitness Rise on the Tide of Relatedness?

Does Group Fitness Rise on the Tide of Relatedness-My favorite fitness is solo fitness, but I’m increasingly in the minority on that one (or so it seems). There have always been group fitness opportunities but they seem to be increasing in number. Here in Boston, we have new boutique gyms and studios opening every month, and programs like ClassPass are making them more easily accessible to anyone (although their recent price hike might change that). One of the biggest free fitness movements in the country, the November Project, started here, and I can think of at least three or four free running clubs in my neighborhood alone.

Continue reading Does Group Fitness Rise on the Tide of Relatedness?

Organizational Dynamics: Balancing Individual Achievement with Team Success

amybucherphd.comWhether you work in a formal corporate environment or a laid-back creative one, most of us experience some degree of tension between individual and group success. As we work, we want our teams and companies to do well and look good. Yet, when it’s time for recognition, we also want people to notice our own accomplishments. Striking the wrong balance between individual and group success can lead to several sub-optimal motivational outcomes. Specifically, people may not engage and turn in their best work if they feel like their contributions are either undervalued or under-recognized.  Continue reading Organizational Dynamics: Balancing Individual Achievement with Team Success

The Diminishing Returns of Education for Health Behavior Change

TheWant someone to quit tobacco? Chances are your persuasive tactics to get them to stop smoking will include some cold hard facts about the damage that cigarettes can cause to your lungs and heart. Maybe you’ll use some photos that show the aging effects of smoking on skin and teeth. Or perhaps you can share statistics around the rates of disease for people who smoke compared to people who don’t. These approaches may make intuitive sense, but they rarely work to get someone to quit smoking. Knowledge alone doesn’t change behavior. Continue reading The Diminishing Returns of Education for Health Behavior Change

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?

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone! The Legend of Zelda and Fundamental Needs

It's Dangerous to Go Alone!I was never a big gamer, but I did become obsessed with the original NES The Legend of Zelda as a kid. On top of the hours I spent playing, I also avidly consumed any article in my brother’s Nintendo Power magazine related to the game.  I remember talking with people about rumors about hidden levels in the game (true), and how to find the Blue Ring. The Internet wasn’t a thing yet or I’m sure I would have been on Zelda message boards. Zelda was the first game I remember that really created an imaginary universe with engrossing challenges and a sense of infinite possibility. As an adult, I look back on the game as an artistic masterpiece (albeit in 8 bits) and an accomplishment in design psychology. Continue reading It’s Dangerous To Go Alone! The Legend of Zelda and Fundamental Needs

The Motivational Mojo of MapMyRun’s Year in Review

The Motivational Mojo of MapMyRun's Year in ReviewContinuing the thread of year-end wrap-ups that press the levers of motivation (see my post on TripAdvisor here, and Blue Apron here), I wanted to share the year in review that I found the most inspirational of all, from MapMyRun.  I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with MapMyRun; it was the first program I ever used to log my running data, and they don’t make it easy to export, so even though I’ve come to like other running programs better, I stick with MapMyRun for data’s sake. Yes, I am neurotic. Continue reading The Motivational Mojo of MapMyRun’s Year in Review