Gamification, quantified-self or social networking? Matching users’ goals with motivational technology

Juho Hamari*, Lobna Hassan, Antonio Dias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Systems and services we employ in our daily life have increasingly been augmented with motivational designs which fall under the classes of (1) gamification, (2) quantified-self and (3) social networking features that aim to help users reach their goals via motivational enforcement. However, users differ in terms of their orientation and focus toward goals and in terms of the attributes of their goals. Therefore, different classes of motivational design may have a differential fit for users. Being able to distinguish the goal profiles of users, motivational design could be better tailored. Therefore, in this study we investigate how different goal foci (outcome and focus), goals orientation (mastery, proving, and avoiding), and goal attributes (specificity and difficulty) are associated with perceived importance of gamification, social networking and quantified-self features. We employ survey data ((Formula presented.)) from users of HeiaHeia; a popular exercise encouragement app. Results indicate that goal-setting related factors of users and attributes of goals are connected with users’ preference over motivational design classes. In particular, the results reveal that being outcome-focused is associated with positive evaluations of gamification and quantified-self design classes. Users with higher proving-orientation perceived gamification and social networking design classes as more important, users with lower goal avoidance-orientation perceived social networking design as more important, whereas users with higher mastery-orientation perceived quantified-self design more important. Users with difficult goals were less likely to perceive gamification and social networking design important, whereas for users with high goal specificity quantified-self features were important. The findings provide insights for the automatic adaptation of motivational designs to users’ goals. However, more research is naturally needed to further investigate generalizability of the results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-74
Number of pages40
JournalUser Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Gamification
  • Goal orientation
  • Goal-setting
  • Motivational information system
  • Quantified-self
  • Social networking

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