Over the past four years gamification (the use of game elements in non-game contexts) has been implemented in various organisational contexts to drive performance outcomes, with varying degrees of success. One reason for this is the lack of research on the individual game elements and their underlying motivational mechanisms. Further to this gamification, makes use of extrinsic incentives, such as points and levels, to drive intrinsically motivated behaviours, which lead to performance gains in quality. Up until recently it has been widely accepted that extrinsic incentives crowd out intrinsic motivation for interesting tasks, which has led to a further lack of research on intrinsic motivation, incentives and performance. What has been proposed is that if the incentives are perceived by the user as informative and not controlling, they may support intrinsic motivation, by enhancing the feeling of competence. It has been said that extrinsic motivation leads to an increase in performance quantity whilst intrinsic motivation leads to an increase in performance quality.
This research made use of an online experiment to individually assess the effect of points, levels and leaderboards, against a control condition, on intrinsic motivation, flow and performance quality outcomes (point scores for correctly completed tasks), using graphical perception tasks. The tasks were structured in a way that is intrinsically motivating to the user, in that they offered performance feedback which allowed for task mastery.
The study found that the points and leaderboards conditions had no significant effect on intrinsic motivation, flow or performance quality. The levels condition however led to a significant increase in performance quality, where intrinsic motivation and more specifically, perceived competence predicted the performance quality. This shows that the levels incentive supported intrinsic motivation, and its associated behavioural outcomes.
Mini Dissertation (MBA)--University of Pretoria, 2015.