13 Psychological Cognitive Biases and Game Design Applications

Useful Psychology cognitive biases

Ambiguity Effect: Tendency to avoid options with lack of info. Uses: Be very clear about game feature’s rules or players will not use it.

Denomination Effect: Tendency to spend more money when in small amounts rather than large amounts. Uses: Split up 1 big chance/big cost to 10 small chance/small costs for players to spend more money.

Focusing Effect: Cognitive bias tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered. Uses: First info sticks. Use sequential info to branch from that info. People are bad at adjusting from the first info that they believe is true.

IKEA Effect: Tendency to rate higher value if self assembled. Uses: Let players do simple thing and show magical results for them to think that they are good at the game.

Kuleshov Effect(Video): Creating meaning with juxtaposition. Uses: Tetris showed Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Russian background/music and people dancing. This gave context of the Tetris puzzle to be somehow related to construction of a building.

Law of Effect: Response reinforces/discourages next action.

Loss aversionLosses are more powerful than gains. Uses: Give $5 discount than $5 surcharge.

Overconfidence Effect: Tendency to misjudge accuracy, usually resulting in overestimation. Uses: Gacha probability.

Overjustification Effect: Expected external incentive decreases motivation. Uses: Pace rewards.

Ringelmann Effect: Tendency for individual member of a group to become increasingly less productive as the size of their group increases. Uses: Clan/Guild should be broken up to many sub-layers with small number of people for better sense of contribution.

Sunk cost effects: Because of Loss aversion on investment, player doesn’t want to go back. Uses: Introduce add-on to what player already has and do not let what they have be a waste.

Tetris Effect: Intense habit forms pattern recognition for perception as well as subconscious. Uses: Shape player’s perception with game experience. Player will think about the game when they aren’t playing the game and return to the game.

Zeigarnik Effect: Tendency to finish what is unfinished. Uses: Give a small town that player needs to grow. Give shards/pieces of a character for Gacha, not the whole character.


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