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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Layers of Motivation 01-22

Layers of Motivation

Layers of Motivation image Layers of Motivation
The more I consider motivation, the more I realise it is one of those things we

 in gamification use as a catch all. It’s a bit like how we treat the term “game 

mechanics” and, well, gamification!

Generally speaking, you will hear the terms intrinsic and extrinsic when motivation 

is spoken about. You will hear Deci & Ryan, Dan Pink, Maslow and more spoken 

about. However, when it comes down to it our argument is always the same. 

Intrinsic motivation is always better than extrinsic rewards. At times you will also 

hear a futher comment that a balance of extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivation 

will yield the best results.

I myself bang on about RAMP; relatedness, autonomy, mastery and purpose. I 

talk about supporting these motivators with well planned and thought out extrinsic 

rewards and nudges. However, It seems to me that motivation has several layers 

and we only seem to speak about one or two of them. There is a more 

fundamental and core level of motivation that we all seem to ignore. I have 

spoken about it before here, but I wanted to make my case more clearly!

Let’s think about your job for a moment. Most go to work for one reason, to earn 

money. Money leads to security. It provides you shelter, it keeps your family safe, 

it provides food for you all. Before money and jobs and the like, this was all much 

more primal. You secured your family by physically protecting them. You hunted 

for food and you built shelters. 

Now, this is all handled for most by getting money. 

We don’t need to hunt or build huts for ourselves, we buy all of those things. If we 

extrapolate that, and take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs again, we see 

the most core motivations for humans are physiological needs and safety / 

Layers of Motivation image Maslows Hierarchy of Needs.svg
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Having just shown that in this day and age, money is what provides the majority 

of security (including food) for most, it stands to reason that money is actually 

now one of our most core needs. I am not talking about begin rich – rather having 

enough to guarantee physiological needs and safety.

Many people enjoy their job, which is great. But even those who say “I would 

work here if they didn’t pay me” are generally talking bollocks. You need to 

survive and in our world work gives you that opportunity.

Once these core needs and motivations are satisfied, then we can focus on the 

other more emotional motivations, which this is where RAMP starts to come in. 

Our need for relatedness, autonomy, mastery, purpose, status, friendship etc.

Finally we can look at the trivial things. More money than we need to survive, 

bonuses and other types of extrinsic rewards. In gamification things like points, 

badges, leaderboards, competitions, prices etc.
Layers of Motivation image Layers of Motivation

The Three Layers of Motivation

The question becomes, how can we benefit from this knowledge in gamification? 

The answer is, by understanding what people actually need. Forget motivation for 

a moment, and look at core needs. If a person feels they cannot support 

themselves and guarantee the security and safety of their family – no amount of 

emotional or trivial motivation is going to actually motivate them, at least not in 

they way you are probably hoping it will.

This is obviously focused on Enterprise gamification. It is not the job of an 

advertising company using gamification to sell a product, to ensure the core 

needs of their target audience. This is the job of the individual and their employer. 

However, if their target audience does not feel they have their core needs 

satisfied by work or other means, it is pretty unlikely that the adversing will work 

on them, gamified or otherwise!

In the enterprise, be aware that if your employees are struggling financially and it 

is perceived that you could improve this, gamification could seriously backfire. 

The money you spend on that, could be seen to be spent on improving the lives 

of the employees at a core level rather than a trivial one!

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