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Helping people make better decisions using optimal gamification


Conference Paper


Game elements like points and levels are a popular tool to nudge and engage students and customers. Yet, no theory can tell us which incentive structures work and how to design them. Here we connect the practice of gamification to the theory of reward shaping in reinforcement learning. We leverage this connection to develop a method for designing effective incentive structures and delineating when gamification will succeed from when it will fail. We evaluate our method in two behavioral experiments. The results of the first experiment demonstrate that incentive structures designed by our method help people make better, less short-sighted decisions and avoid the pitfalls of less principled approaches. The results of the second experiment illustrate that such incentive structures can be effectively implemented using game elements like points and badges. These results suggest that our method provides a principled way to leverage gamification to help people make better decisions.

Author(s): Falk Lieder and Thomas L. Griffiths
Book Title: Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Year: 2016

Department(s): Rationality Enhancement
Research Project(s): Computing Optimal Incentive Structures
Bibtex Type: Conference Paper (inproceedings)

State: Published
URL: https://cocosci.princeton.edu/papers/GamificationCogSciRevised.pdf


  title = {Helping people make better decisions using optimal gamification},
  author = {Lieder, Falk and Griffiths, Thomas L.},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society},
  year = {2016},
  url = {https://cocosci.princeton.edu/papers/GamificationCogSciRevised.pdf}