Science is learning more and more about how our thinking works, how emotions work, and how human behaviour can be influenced.
There are a number of excellent books that combine behavioural science and economics. These books can teach us how to design digital products in such a way that users enjoy using them more often. Often this is referred to as gamification.
Here are my book recommendations on gamification that you should read in 2019
My book recommendations in Gamification and Behavioral Science for 2019 are
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite by Robert Kurzban
- Influence by Robert Cialdini
- Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
- Actionable Gamification by Yu-kai Chou
- Loyalty 3.0 by Rajat Paharia
- Nudge by Richard Thaler
- The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The New Year is a great time to make some good resolutions and grab a few good books. Below I will give you a brief overview of what the books are about and why you should read them.
Let’s jump right into it!
Book recommendation #1: Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
The title already reveals it: This book concentrates on the way habits are formed. It presents a simple but effective model for designing digital products in such a way that they create strong and lasting habits.
Recommended for everyone who plans, strategically accompanies or develops digital products.
Book recommendation #2: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. In this book, he summarizes many of the findings of his lengthy research: Heuristics, two selves, experiencing and remembering ego, self-overestimation… the list could be continued. Not a light meal, but probably one of the best books I have ever read.
Recommended for anyone who wants to know how people make decisions.
Book recommendation #3: Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite by Robert Kurzban
This book revolves around the question of why people at the same time have different opinions and act inconsistently. Based on evolutionary psychology, Kurzban explains his “Modular Mind” model.
Recommended for those who have always wondered why people lock their fridges at night.
Book recommendation #4: Influence by Robert Cialdini
Actually almost a classic, but still highly relevant: Cialdini presents his 6 Principles of Persuasion, that he has compiled on the basis of scientific knowledge. But not only that, he also went through numerous personal experiences himself to learn first hand how professionals influence their peers.
Recommended for everyone who wants to see through how others try to convince and manipulate them.
Book recommendation #5: Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
Oren Klaff is a professional speaker. Often times, when companies and Startups try to land big deals or raise money, he is called in to make the pitch. Klaff has developed a method that greatly increases the effectiveness of his presentations by directly talking to the braim stem. He calls it the “croc brain”. As a side note: Most of his findings are completely congruent with the Why-How-What method.
Recommended for all those who want to make their presentations and digital products more convincing.
Book recommendation #6: Actionable Gamification by Yu-kai Chou
Yu-kai Chou is considered the world’s leading gamification guru. In his book, he introduces the Octalysis framework, which allows you to analyze products and behaviors based on core human motivators. Yu-kai is also my colleague and friend.
Recommended for everyone who wants to know how to use gamification and behavioral science to increase user motivation.
Book recommendation #7: Loyalty 3.0 by Rajat Paharia
Digital loyalty programs that use gamification are in fashion. This book is almost a guide to how to plan and build them strategically. Paharia introduces some basic gamification principles and explains how to build a motivating customer experience based on big data and behavioral science.
Recommended for those who work on loyalty programs and want to create more than just a simple points program.
Book recommendation #8: Nudge by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein
Nudges are small incentives that motivate people to behave in a certain way. This book introduces the Nudge framework and provides numerous examples. Basically, Nudge is a condensed form of the book Actionable Gamification by Yu-kai Chou, but with a very practical, but less comprehensive approach.
Recommended for all those who work in the field of customer experience and want to nudge customers in the right direction.
Book recommendation #9: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Duhigg is not a scientist, but a journalist. For many years, however, he has been intensively involved with habits and has ultimately written a very scientific but nevertheless easily comprehensible book. In contrast to Hooked, it has a somewhat more general approach, but is one of the best that you can read about that topic.
Recommended for all those who not only want to control the habits of their customers, but also want to question their own habits, too.
Book recommendation #10: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Technically, this book is not about behavioural science and has nothing to do with gamification. Nevertheless, it is an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to make digital products more engaging and motivating. It is about setting up and quickly testing hypotheses in order to perfectly align a digital product with customer needs. If terms like MVP or Build-Measure-Learn-Feedback-Loop don’t mean anything to you, you should start reading immediately.
Recommended for all those who are on the move in the field of digitization.
Books on Gamification and Behavioral Science
There are many good books out there, but truly amazing ones are rare. Some of the above mentioned books are already a few years old. But the fact that they are still up to date definitely speaks for their high quality.
Not all books explicitly focus on gamification, but they do address the topics that make gamification so successful: The behavioural psychology that lies at the bottom of it.