Psychology Theories in Gamification: A Review of Information Systems Literature

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Christian Schlagenhaufer, Michael Amberg

Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen Nuremberg


A central aspect for the application of Gamification is to motivate desired user behavior. As motivation and behavior are discussed in psychology an understanding of psychology theories is a vital and inevitable building block in the creation of successful Gamification. This issue has already been addressed in academia and praxis by transferring psychology theories to the domain of Gamification. Yet to the best of knowledge a comprehensive overview of psychology theories for Gamification is missing. The paper at hand closes this gap and provides a comprehensive overview of psychology theories by conducting a literature review in 42 top ranking IS journals as well as IS conferences and corresponding IS streams. Results showed that a plethora of psychology theories with different use intentions were employed in the context of Gamification. All findings were first discussed within the scope of their containing article and second concept centric in table form for a better overview. Derived from the results future research outlets were identified and presented.