Publication Date

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Evan Palmer


engagement, gamification, motivation, performance, visual search

Subject Areas

Psychology; Cognitive psychology; Behavioral psychology


Gamification is the application of game elements to non-game environments (Deterding, 2012), and is often used to engage people and make their experiences more enjoyable in areas ranging from fitness and education to psychological research. Previous studies have shown that adding gamification to new environments can result in increased motivation (Hamari, Koivisto, & Sarsa, 2014). However, increased motivation from gamification does not seem to increase performance in terms of accuracy or response times (Hawkins et al., 2013). This research study examined this “gamification paradox” by testing the performance of 87 participants on a visual search task both with and without gamification elements. We found no difference in terms of intrinsic motivation between participants in the gamified and non-gamified conditions. Additionally, the two conditions did not significantly differ in their performance. However, we did find that motivation was related to performance in terms of accuracy. We also found that our point formula altered participant behavior, such that participants emphasized accuracy over response time. These findings suggest that game elements, such as points, can affect participant behavior. However, because the implementation of gamification failed to sufficiently motivate participants, we were unable to see whether gamification can increase participant performance