The Happiness Science behind Octalysis

The Happiness Science behind Octalysis

We often get asked what the science is behind the Octalysis Framework and what exactly makes Octalysis so powerful. Our answer normally relates to human focused design, and how designing for the 8 Core Drives leads to more motivation of users and employees. And this is true: Octalysis Designed Products (apps, websites, policies etc) are much more effective and have impressive ROIs. Octalysis Employee Gamification leads to very significant increases in employee engagement, and retention. As importantly though, we want to create fun and happiness through our Gamification efforts.


Is creating happiness not a luxury problem? Is that important for my investors? Creating engagement, OK. Motivation, sure. But surely some things like paying your bills, checking your bank account or filing your expenses cannot make you happy? And why do they need to be made fun?

That makes sense right? Can some things just be left boring or serious? Yes, some things should be left serious and should not be made fun. Funerals are a case in point. However, the large majority of our activities should be: the way we buy things online; the way we learn; the way we cooperate; the way we discover… The list is endless.

So why happiness? Because having more fun and happy moments leads to more creativity and better results. It leads to happier customers for example as well. Happy customers are much more likely to return to your website or app and are much more likely to recommend your product to their friends. All of this on the basis of their happiness with the experience, even when their interest in the product they are buying was not that great at the start of the experience. Did you know that people judge the work of happy people in a more positive light, and therefore are more likely to try out their recommendations?

Employee happiness & Positive Emotions
With around 70% of the current workforce not engaged and around 20% actively disgruntled, most people now agree that something has to change on the work floor. But not that many people look at ways on how to create employee happiness by creating positive emotions.

This is sad, as supervisors evaluate happy individuals more positively, show superior performance and productivity, and handle managerial jobs better. They are also less likely to show counterproductive workplace behavior and job burnout. In several studies, the mean corrected correlation between having positive experiences and job satisfaction was .49 (1 being a 100% correlation, 0 being no correlation). Why is this?


The Power of Positivity
Positive emotions make people approach new situations rather than avoid them and make them analyze situations better. Because happy people experience frequent positive moods, they more actively work towards new goals while experiencing those moods. Second, happy people are more thorough as they have already built up an array of positive skills and resources over time. One short-term example of the effect in practice: physicians who received a small present before they were asked to analyze a medical problem, were much more creative in their solutions and obtained much better results.

Finally, work performance is more strongly related to happiness and well-being on the job than by whether your job “objectively” is more fun or not (Wright and Cropanzano (2000)). In turn, a positive organizational climate was correlated with productivity (r _ .31) and profitability (r _ .36; Foster, Hebl, West, & Dawson, 2004).


Octalysis brings it all together: scientifically

Scientists know that there are 5 things that bring about happiness if you experience them regularly. Octalysis was developed in close relation to these findings:

1. Positive emotion: feelings of pleasure, glee, satisfaction, amazement.
Positive emotions are correlated with Core Drive 3 (Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback) when you feel satisfied that your way of solving challenge was the right one, which leads to Core Drive 2 (Progress and Development). Similarly Core Drive 7 (Curiosity and Unpredictability) leads to dopamine spikes when we get something unexpected like winning a lottery.

2. Engagement: Flow, or being fully immersed in what we’re doing.
In our Octalysis Designs we install a learning curve and a path to achieve mastery during the experience and use our Core Drives as a tool to keep users in “flow” (this is still where Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s flow theory comes in)
3. Accomplishment: Mastery and success.
Core Drive 2 (Progress and Development) give you proof of progressing by achieving XP, badges, level ups etc and this often leads to Core Drive 4 (Ownership and Possession) when users build up their Trophy Hall, Armouries and other Collection Set holders.

4. Relationships
Regular and supportive social interaction and influence is a hallmark of the Octalysis Framework (Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness). In our designs we make sure that relationships in and outside of the experience are strengthened and expanded. Great for happiness, great for engagement, great for motivation, great for sales!

5. Meaning
Belonging to and serving something bigger than the self. Most likely the most quoted Core Drive, Octalysis Core Drive 1 (Epic Meaning and Calling). The link between happiness and meaning in scientific literature is quite strong. Short to medium term happiness can exist without meaning but having a meaningful life often leads to happier people (although you can argue that the human rights worker who is thrown in jail in North Korea may experience some very unhappy moments of course).


welcome-to-happinessOctalysis: the path to happiness and success
We discussed Core Drive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and how they are related to science in happiness (whilst Core Drive 7 is related through happiness by creating positive emotions).
Core Drives 6 (Scarcity and Impatience) and Core Drive 8 (Loss & Avoidance) are less directly related to happiness. Also Core Drive 7 can lead to unhappy outcomes if applied in extremes, like addictive gambling. These Black Hat Octalysis Drives often do not give you a happy feeling. However, we use them to help start people up, and keep them locked in, in their path to fun-fuelled engagement. So paradoxically, even if we use negative motivators, the users of our designs always end up happier!

And happiness leads to? Yes, better productivity, more sales, more referrals, more creativity, more ideas, more cooperation, and more engagement. We at The Octalysis Group think it leads to a new and better world, where in a decade or so the difference fun and work will have disappeared. Experiencing happiness will be the norm, not the exception!


Let us help you create happiness success with Octalysis:

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