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Magazine by UseTree
Knowledge, Good question Reading Time 3 min | 13.01.2020

Motivation: The Alpha & Omega in UX Research

In 2020, we are starting motivated! This positive resolution for the new year also plays a decisive role in UX Research. Therefore, we have dedicated a 4-part series of articles to the topic of motivation.

by Redaktion

We have asked ourselves a number of questions: What can I do to best motivate participants during a testing session? What possibilities do I have to motivate people to participate? And how can I get people to participate repeatedly? Let us start with the question why motivation is important at all.

Why is motivation important?

For us as UX researchers, it is always a challenge to acquire enough suitable participants. The sample should usually consist of people with very specific characteristics, but these aren’t always easy to find.

Especially important: the participants should be highly motivated to participate in the test or survey. This will not only secure a lot of data and information that we so urgently need, but will also improve its quality. After all, motivated participants provide more in-depth insights into the subject matter, are conscientious and carry out surveys right up to the end.

The first motivational hurdle is to participate at all. Motivation can also vary from one group to another. Our goal as researchers should be to motivate potential participants of all relevant groups to participate in the study. Why? If only certain groups participate, the sample composition can cause problems in interpreting the results: the reason for this is the distortion of silence, also called non-response bias or participation bias.

What is non-response bias?

Source: Unsplash

Imagine the following situation: a questionnaire aimed to measure the workload for employees. Especially those who are exposed to a low workload have enough time and can participate in the survey. However, those who are already working under a heavy workload cannot. As a result, the workload value that is determined, is too low and does not reflect reality.

The same applies to motivation. If only interested people take part in the survey, there is a lack of answers from other groups of people in order to obtain really meaningful results. Because the remaining potential participants remain mute due to their absence, this phenomenon is called participation bias or non-response bias.

It can have many reasons as to why a person is interested in participating in surveys, interviews or usability tests. The impulse to attend can be triggered mainly by intrinsic or extrinsic factors.

What is intrinsic motivation?

People who are intrinsically motivated are motivated on their own. The task itself is the incentive, it gives the person fun and pleasure. A task is done for its own sake, for example because the person has a special interest in solving the task or because the topic concerns him/her personally. Intrinsically motivated people have internalised personal standards and yardsticks by which they act. They have an ideal image that motivates them to act.

What is extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation describes external factors that motivate a person to act. These can be concrete benefits or rewards from an outside source, such as incentives. Extrinsically motivated persons may also seek affirmations, i.e. external recognition of their characteristics, competencies and values. Fulfilling certain role expectations as well as gaining acceptance and status in a group provide the impulse for certain actions.

What does this mean for UX testing?

The motivation of participants can be increased by internal as well as external factors. In the next part of our blog series, we will introduce you to the various options available to you before and during the test. Stay tuned!

Image source: New Old Stock