Chapter 45. Rewards and Punishments

If psychology were math, this lesson would be when we move from adding and subtracting to multiplying and dividing. It’s easy, but it allows you to design behavior that grows over time.

Feelings, Not Things

Most people are familiar with the general idea of a reward or a punishment. Reward = good. Punishment = bad. The part that a lot of people don’t understand is that rewards and punishments are feelings, not things.

Your parents might have given you a toy for doing well in school, but the toy caused a happy feeling. Similarly, your parents might have taken away your bicycle because you started a meth business with your chemistry teacher, but it was the negative feeling that was the punishment, not the bicycle, and that feeling is what we’re interested in.

i.e., Rewards and punishments are emotions. You can cause those emotions in a million different ways.

Feedback to Yourself

The mind-blowing part about emotions is that they are your brain giving feedback to your brain about something that happened. INCEPTION.

But since you, the designer, can control what happens, that means you can control the feedback. Which means you can train your users by rewarding them for something you consider good, and punish them for something you consider bad. That is a powerful thing. It’s how we learned everything we know.

image with no caption

Learning = Associations = Beliefs

The last really fundamental ...

Get UX for Beginners now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.