Probably the more successful way to motivate people is using humor. Humor makes people do things they even hate just for the sake of laughing about it. This is the premise used by a bunch of students of Psychology in Madrid as the basis of a curious experiment. If you think politics and poop are extremely related, you are going to love this experiment.
How could we motivate people to pick up their dogs’ poops? Fines seem not to be working, appeals to civism, collaboration and health are getting the same negative results so… let’s try something different.
These 5 students installed in a park in the center of Madrid 4 cardboard boxes that have been baptized as the ‘cacómetro’ or in English the ‘poop-meter’. Each of the boxes has the face of the leader plus the color of one of the most supported Spanish political parties. Right in the middle of a political crisis, there is no better way of raising people’s attention and will to participate. Political discontent is the daily bread on Spanish TV, bars, and conversations.
In the photographs shared by bystanders through social networks, you can see a blue box for Mariano Rajoy, ‘PP’ (Popular Party) leader, the most right wing party in the lot, orange for Albert Rivera’s ‘Ciudadanos’ (Citizens), a new right wing party but more centrist, red is for Pedro Sanchez, leader of ‘PSOE’ (Socialist Party), the traditional left-wing-centrist party and purple is for Pablo Iglesias, founder of another new party ‘Podemos’ (We can) representing more extremist left-wing ideas.
Users of this ‘cacómetro’ (‘caca’ means ‘poop’ in Spanish) deposited their votes in the selected box and added a mark in a corresponding blackboard to keep record of votes. The result was clear and PP and Podemos gathered the most ‘votes’. But the most important thing here is not who will win the more animosity, the relevant thing is that suddenly all dogs owners were eager to pick up their dogs’ poop without hesitation. Again, a good example that playful mechanics and humor can visibly change the world with more positive results that fines or fear.
This experiment was part of the students’ final grades at ‘Universidad Autónoma de Madrid’ so we hope they managed to get an A+ for being able to put a smile on political issues.
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The problem with the word gamification, and how it is used, is NOT that it s bullshit at all it s that the label is extremely confused for what it represents, since although what it represents does exist, and is extremely consistent with the basic framework of human behaviour, it s rarely consistent with the word game itself.