PSYC 193: Social
Psychology Laboratory


January 2018


UX/UI Designer


Ivana Lee
Mengdi Huang
Soren Price
Delilah Sandoval
Shanshan Yi
Xinyi Zhou

Project Overview

We conducted a psychology research study, examining the effects of extrinsic monetary rewards and auditory signaling on intrinsic motivation during video game play.

This research was completed as part of my student course work for PSYC 193, a social psychology lab class at UC San Diego. I worked with a group of students to design and conduct all components of the study.

UX/UI Design

As part of the experiment, participants played a Mac / PC based video game. I produced mockups and designed the visual elements for this game in collaboration with a developer.

Main Objective
Because the visual appearance of the game had the potential to interfere with study results, our main objectives during the design process were to:

  • Minimize potential confounds related to the game’s appearance
  • Maintain visually appealing UI in order to stimulate positive user interest
  • Ensure game score is visible to player at all times

Target Audience
Participants were recruited from psychology classes at UC San Diego so the target audience was college students, ages 18-25. All users had some basic experience with video game play and prior exposure to basic computer game controls.

Final Design
The final design was kept minimal, with only basic game elements present and a muted color scheme, in order to control for sources of visual stimulation.

Single Project

Screen 1: Loading

Progress bar displays percentage of the page currently loaded

Single Project

Screen 2: Start

Users are given directions for how to begin the game; this is straightforward and minimal

Single Project

Screen 3: Game Play

During the game, users see their current score and the overall high score for all players. The falling apples, a game objective, are highlighted in red.

Single Project

Screen 4: Game Over

After completing the game, players are prompted to proceed to the next study phase.

Research Paper: Abstract

Video games are a globally prevalent form of entertainment with player demographics that span multiple age, gender, and ethnicity groups; it is a rapidly growing industry with a pervasive international reach.

This study examines the motivations behind video game play through self-determination theory, which outlines how an individual’s experience during an activity is variable when they behave for intrinsically versus extrinsically motivated reasons. Based on previous motivation studies, we predicted that individuals playing a video game would report decreased intrinsic motivation when offered extrinsic rewards, while the presence of audio signals would increase intrinsic motivation.

Participants (N = 82) were recruited from psychology classes at the University of California, San Diego and through researchers’ personal contacts. Participants played a video game and completed a 22-question self-report Intrinsic Motivation Inventory, rated on a 9-point Likert scale.

Results indicated that intrinsic motivation levels were lowered by extrinsic monetary rewards. There was no significant effect from audio signals and no significant interaction between extrinsic rewards and audio signals. Our study suggests that intrinsic motivation studies can be applied to the context of video games and be used to analyze real-world situation such as e-sports or to understand the psychological implications of different game elements. (read the full paper)