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No Pain, no Gain? Investigating motivational mechanisms of game elements in cognitive tasks

Bernecker, Katharina; Ninaus, Manuel (2021). No Pain, no Gain? Investigating motivational mechanisms of game elements in cognitive tasks. Computers in Human Behaviour, 114.

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The literature on serious games and gamification suggests that game elements have a positive influence on learning and performance in cognitive tasks. However, the mechanisms by which game elements affect these outcomes are not well understood. Building on theorizing in the self-control literature, the present research investigated whether game elements change the subjective experience of a cognitive task in terms of the positive affect, motivational conflict, and subjective effort experienced. Further, we tested whether people with a low versus high level of self-control benefit more from game elements in terms of their performance. The results of two experimental studies suggest that the gamification of an n-back task did not improve task accuracy (i.e., correct responses) directly but reduced task disengagement (i.e., non-responses). Further, gamification prevented positive affect from dropping over the course of the task and reduced motivational conflict and subjective effort experienced. Only positive affect mediated the effect of game elements on task disengagement. Further, game elements had an indirect effect on task accuracy via subjective effort. There was no indication that individuals with lower delay of gratification or lower trait self-control would profit more from gamification. The implications of these findings for the literature on self-control and gamification are discussed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

PHBern Contributor:

Bernecker, K.




Sibylle Blanchard

Date Deposited:

10 Jun 2024 13:12

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2024 13:12




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