There's a lot to learn from behaviorism. Certainly the notion that we should be scientific and systematic and not just rely on people's reporting of their feelings is a worthwhile endeavor. And some of the concepts that behaviorism focuses on, for example, the importance of feedback, the idea that feedback loops can systematically modify people's behavior is an important finding and one that's quite relevant to gamification. And the different kinds of rewards that we talked about can help us see how to construct different kinds of systems to motivate behavior. But there are serious limitations and blind spots to the behaviorist approach, and we need to understand them in order to have a full picture of gamification. For starters, there's some important things that behaviorism leaves out. Let's go back to the Speed Camera Lottery example. Why do people slow down when there is this sign that shows them how fast they're going, and the possibility of winning some money if they're not speeding? Well, the first thing to think about, is that people slow down even without the lottery. When there's just a sign showing people how fast they're going, there seems to be an effect that people slow down even then. So, how do we explain that? Well some of it has to do with feedback, clearly. People are seeing their speed. It's making them aware of how fast they're going, which is then creating a reaction and causing the person to slow down. But is it just that the person is becoming aware that they were speeding? Or is what's going on something like this? The driver says hmm, is this just a sign? Or is there perhaps a camera in it somewhere hidden here that's going to take a picture of me and I'm going to get sent a ticket automatically because I was speeding? Or perhaps, is there a cop right behind the sign who's going to give me a ticket if I go too fast? In which case I'm slowing down, not because of the feedback so much. I'm slowing down because I want to avoid the punishment. Punishments are just a flip side of rewards. They work the same way. So at some level, this is a kind of standard behavioristic count, but it's very much cause and effect. We want to avoid the direct punishment, so we take some action. It's not about people changing their behavior and learning. It's just people slowing down because they think they're going to get caught. So, what about now the Speed Camera Lottery example? What does the lottery change? Well, from a behaviorist's standpoint, first it's hard to think about it. But if you look at this through that kind of behavioral lens, what you say is, well, behaviorism is about testing what people do. And what's different here is a chance of winning money. And turns out, that people love lotteries. There's some reason why the're lotteries all over the place and people will spend their money on them, even when the odds are terrible! When you know empirically, statistically, you're very likely to lose. Not a good bet to make. People still play the lottery all the time. So a behaviorist might say, alright, people love lotteries. That's a lesson, that's a fact that we know. So this works because it's a lottery, and that's all we need to know. So let's do lotteries in lots of other places. And this was in fact the description of the Speed Camera Lottery. From Richard Thaler, one of the leading figures in Behavioral Economics in an op-ed piece that he wrote about this phenomenon. And basically his conclusion was, policymakers should use lotteries. And maybe that's a helpful conclusion, but the point I want to make is, it leaves a lot out. Why do people like lotteries? Is it just that we're irrational? What's actually going on there? What is it about the lottery here that's motivating to people? And to answer that question you have to go beyond behaviorism. Because now we're not just talking about, what do people do? Now we're going to, what do people think and feel? And what is actually in there motivating someone to act in a certain way? So that's part of the story that's important in general, and in particular important for gamification. So first big issue with behaviorism is it leaves out a lot. But there's some other reasons to be concerned about a purely behaviorist approach. And as it turns out B.F. Skinner's work on operant conditioning, fell out of favor in psychology. There's still been a great deal of work in that area. And much of the literature on feedback and today the work in the quantified self area can be seen as being part of that same tradition. But, the notion of modifying people's behavior through these constructed systems of reward, or punishment based on learning from feedback scared people. And they got associated with things like Socialism and Fascism that were trying to manipulate and change people's behavior in ways that people didn't want. Now, that's probably not entirely fair. But in thinking about the implications of behaviorism for gamification, it's worth keeping in mind. Because if you take a purely behaviorist approach, you tend to focus on the person involved, again, as a black box. And that tends to move away from the notion that this is a human being, and this is a player. Remember game thinking is about empowering the person as a player. They are the center of the action. So, this focus on rewards in behaviorism, well, again, it can be useful and productive in the ways that we've talked about, tends to also have some problems. And in fact, there are a number of serious problems with a behaviorist approach which we'll turn to next.