Skip to main content


Whale-come to your weekly dose of learning science! This week’s articles address the following questions:

  • Does hope or compulsion lead to customer engagement? What factors contribute?
  • Does an accessible gamified experience lead to learning for those with total blindness?

Let’s dive right in!

Fostering Hope vs. Hooking Them In🪝

Our first article is one by a researcher that I follow, as he integrates a psychological perspective into his business work quite often. In an article published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing, Eisingerich and colleagues (2019) investigated the impact of certain gamification elements on customer engagement. One reason I’m a fan of this article is because it utilizes qualitative data! While quantitative research is incredibly valuable, qualitative impacts are often overlooked. So, how do we “foster hope” in customers rather than just “hook” them?

Health applications were the main focus of their first study, with researchers interviewing users of various apps. The interviews centered around the gamification elements of the apps, with interviewees predominantly leading the discussion; interviewers asked follow-up questions as needed (Eisingerich, Marchand, Fritze, & Dong, 2019). The exploratory interviews generated the following principles of gamification that motivate users to take action: “social interaction, sense of control, goals, progress tracking, rewards, and prompts” (Eisingerich et al., 2019). These results tell us that users want to:

  • Share their experiences with others
  • Feel in control of their life (instill an internal locus of control)
  • Set goals
  • Track goal progress
  • Receive rewards (in the form of: badges, high scores, or new information)
  • Get prompts, reminders, or alerts

One important distinction the article makes is between “hope” and “compulsion” (Eisingerich et al., 2019). Mobile apps can create compulsive behaviors, which may not lead to positive customer engagement. In this scenario, compulsive behaviors resemble an addiction or dependency on the app. It is a “response to uncontrollable desire to engage in certain behaviors repetitively” (Eisingerich et al., 2019). However, the researchers suggest that we should instill hope instead. They define hope as a “yearning for a goal-congruent possible outcome” (Eisingerich et al., 2019). The idea here is that hope will lead to much more positive behavioral changes and customer engagement.

A follow-up field study was conducted to evaluate the impact of hope and compulsion, alongside the above mentioned principles, in a gamified health app (Eisingerich et al., 2019). The results from this second study found that the above principles (social interaction, sense of control, goals, progress tracking, rewards, and prompts) were all positively related to hope! Further hope was related to app purchases, with customer engagement positively contributing to the relationship. Conversely, compulsion was negatively related to purchases, indicating those with compulsion were less likely to purchase from the app (Eisingerich et al., 2019).

A third study was conducted to extend the findings, moving from a health app to a dating service. The results echoed the findings from study 2, indicating that hope was “more strongly associated with customer engagement than compulsion, which even has a negative impact” (Eisingerich et al., 2019).

While the research covered a lot of topics, one important theme here is motivation. What is motivating users to learn and change? This is a question we should be asking ourselves. Gamified experiences are excellent for bringing learners in, but their reasoning is crucial to outcomes!

Key Takeaway: Implement gamification principles that foster hope, rather than compulsion (i.e., “hook’). Social interaction, sense of control, goals, progress tracking, rewards, and prompts are all facets of gamification that lead to hope and customer engagement (and _hope_fully more robust learning/outcomes).

Read More ($): Eisingerich, A. B., Marchand, A., Fritze, M. P., & Dong, L. (2019). Hook vs. hope: How to enhance customer engagement through gamification. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 36.

Board Games & Accessibility

Our second article hones in on an area of research that is generally lacking related to gamification: accessibility. A study recently published in Computers in Human Behavior sought to understand how multi-sensory gamification could improve learning in a science course for learners with total blindness (Chang, Kuo, Hou, & Koe, 2022).

The science lesson was about the evolution of whales (which I promptly went down a deep rabbit hole on - thank you, Smithsonian!). In order to gamify the experience, the researchers developed a board game that integrated Braille with modern technology, utilizing cards with QR codes that linked to audio information for learners. The game also included 2-D tactile graphic and 3-D resin models (Chang et al., 2022). In order to test this gamification strategy, learners were divided into 2 groups: experimental and control. The experimental group had a lecture with multisensory scaffolding (utilizing the items above) and participated in the board game, while the control group received only the lecture with multisensory scaffolding. All learners were given both a pre- and post-test to evaluate their learning, as well as assessments for motivation and flow (Chang et al., 2022).

The results illustrated significant gains in learning for both groups, without a significant difference between them. One factor may be the materials, since both groups were provided with new and stimulating materials to assist in learning (Chang et al., 2022). It is also worth noting that the lecture included gamified elements with the multisensory materials as well, so the control group did receive some gamification (but not the board game itself). The results also showed a heightened level of flow state during the board game. Motivation, game acceptance, and flow were positively correlated - suggesting they may influence one another (Chang et al., 2022). One difference between the groups was behavioral patterns. Learners in the experimental group had more initiative in their discussion of the lesson, which may provide more opportunities for collaboration and social learning (Chang et al., 2022).

Overall, providing a multisensory gamified experience for learners with total blindness can improve motivation, flow, and learning!

*I also think it is important to note that this study was conducted with teenage learners. While the findings may be applicable to adult learners, it has yet to be studied.

Key Takeaway: When designing gamified experiences, consider accessibility. It may be necessary to modify some experiences for all learners to partake, which can still increase flow, motivation, and learning!

Read More ($): Chang, C.-H. S., Kuo, C.-C., Hou, H.-T., & Koe, J.-J. Y. (2022). Design and evaluation of a multi-sensory scaffolding gamification science course with mobile technology for learners with total blindness. Computers in Human Behavior, 128.

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

This week, reader Madeleine E. gifted my inbox with an actual reindeer! 🦌

Obadiah (Obi) is a "12-year-old Australian Labradoodle with a hilarious personality. Obi loves eating alone, making old man grunts when you scratch behind his ears, and ignoring what you say." I think we can all relate, Obi!

Send us your pet pics at

Wondering why we’re including animal photos in a learning science newsletter? It may seem weird, we admit. But we’re banking on the baby schema effect and the “power of Kawaii.” So, send us your cute pet pics -- you’re helping us all learn better!

The LSW Crew

Learning Science Weekly is written and edited by Kaitlyn Erhardt, Ph.D.

Have something to share? Want to see something in next week's issue? Send your suggestions: