Designing Motivation - Changing Human Behaviour Using Game-Elements (G-MOTIV) was about researching and applying new approaches to behavioural change based on motivation by using game elements. We have conducted research on the motivational effect of game elements in changing behaviour. Our multidisciplinary team of scientists and designers worked on developing intelligent PSS prototypes in the fields of health care and human resources, resulting in structural behavioural change. Achieving lasting change is difficult; people are often poorly motivated to change their status quo! In the domains of healthcare and human resources, this resistance leads to large financial costs for society and reorganization costs for companies. Currently, people are ‘helped’ to change using therapy, training and coaching, however these often only result in short-term effects.

To tackle this issue we needed to help people achieve long-lasting, desired behavioural change. We turned to knowledge evolving from the serious gaming industry. The game elements of fantasy, challenge and action-consequences are known to be powerful tools for motivation.

What questions were answered?
Teams from 5 universities, creative partners, service providers and application builders have worked together to answer the question: How can game elements affect user motivation for behavioural change?

What have the teams achieved?
Case-validated generic knowledge that can be applied to PSS applications aimed at changing human behaviour.

Timeframe and communication:
G-MOTIV has started in 2011 and finished in 2015. The project has generated innovative scientific knowledge in the forms of peer-reviewed journal articles, PhD theses and industry-conferences. Throughout the project, we have communicate information and results via this website.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Delft University of Technology, University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit, Erasmus University and the Technical University Eindhoven;
Creative partners: Design Academy Eindhoven, Monobanda, IJsfontein, RANJ, Novay
Service Providers: Berenschot, Humanitas, Parnassia
Application builders: Novay.

Project leaders
Dr. Valentijn Visch, Delft University of Technology
Prof. dr. Paul Hekkert, Delft University of Technology


Smell memory kit: The Molecules that Matter

At rehabilitation clinic, Mistral, patients share their life stories as a form of treatment. These recollections are frequently referred to as ‘health narratives’ since behavioural patterns often emerge that can aid or hinder recovery. These personal accounts are not always the easiest stories to share as, in the context of addiction, they can be accompanied by strong emotions, frustrations and guilt. Focussing on these personal stories provided an initial context to investigate the kind of behaviours that could captivate collective visions for alternative interactions and everyday routines, specific to Mistral. Smell is a speculative tool for storytelling due to its associative power and abstract link to memory and emotions. With the material support of the Olfactive Design Studio from International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF), we began to explore these smell recollections and their associated stories.
In a series of smell sessions, we introduced different odour samples and asked the patients to record their associations with each sniff. We soon realised that smelling makes you want to talk. The limited vocabulary we possess to talk about smells was not hindering but instead motivated the patients’ curiosity to guess and describe each sample’s origin and, more importantly, to share the personal stories and anecdotes triggered by each smell. It was discovered that describing smells and relating to them with personal stories eases sharing personal accounts with others. This led to the design of the Smell-Memory Kit: The Molecules that Matter, which would later be implemented during the intake conversations in the clinic.
Our olfactory system is intrinsically linked to the limbic system, the region of the brain that operates memory and emotions. This is why when we smell something, our emotional response precedes any understanding of the scent. This associative power of smell allows us to powerfully and emotionally recall past experiences when exposed to smells we have previously encountered. These smell recollections, known as the ‘Proustian Effect’, are attached to fragments of our memory but do not always consist of lucid accounts.