Magazine article Psychology Today

From Fun to Done

Magazine article Psychology Today

From Fun to Done

Article excerpt

CAN AN APP MAKE YOUR TO-DO LIST SEEM LIKE CHILD'S PLAY?

MOTIVATION COMES FROM setting concrete goals that provide meaningful rewards, so our need to succeed should be enough, right? A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports that separating rewards into categories boosts our willingness to make an effort, even when those rewards are meaningless. Our fear of missing out on a new and different kind of reward forces us to keep going.

Stuck in a motivational slump? Here are four phone apps that leverage the findings to help you. All apply gamification- game-design thinking in nongame situations - to make everyday activities more engaging. They are proof that by putting a little play in our lives, we can change our behavior. -Mara Model

1 ChoreMonster

THEGOAL Parents assign chores to a child and designate the worth of each task in points.

THE REWARD Chores are boring by definition- they have to be done, but kids would always rather be doing something else. How can parents motivate children to attack dish doing and bed making with the necessary gusto? University of Southern California study coauthor Scott Wiltermuth explains that the availability of different levels of reward doubles determination. Kids can use points to buy monsters in the beginning, and after reaching a certain points threshold, they unleash a new set of prizes. Having two exciting groups of reward available also engages anticipated regret; children don't want to miss out on an opportunity to win more.

DETAILSFree to $4.99/month. Available for iOS.

2 Foursquare

"Checking In" everywhere you go- from school to the gym to your favorite cafecan give even reclusive types the drive to get out and do things.

THE REWARD We tend to feel more motivated to win something when we've already experienced having it or our friends own it; that's why people constantly vie for the most check-ins, badges, and mayorships- three different barometers of an active social life. But the game is designed so that it's easy to lose the ground you've gained. Wiltermuth found that the fear of missing out on multiple types of reward has a positive side- it's a powerful incentive. The threat of losing the title of mayor or placing second in check-Ins encourages players to get busy on the social circuits.

DETAlLS Free. Available for iOS. Android. Blackberry and Windows Phone.

3 Nike+ Running

THE GOAL Nike+ manages your fitness goals by creating exercise routines, tracking your progress, and pushing you to surpass your performance. …

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