Daily UX Crash Course — User Psychology: 10 of 31

Social networks and games have become a huge part of the internet, and the main motivations behind all of them are the same. So in today’s lesson we will learn about:

Motivations 2: Affiliation, Status & Justice


(Just starting the User Psych Crash Course? Start here.)


Today’s lesson includes homework!

Don’t worry: Your homework will be to stalk people on Twitter. But first, I have to tell you what to look for…

These three motivations are purely relative. My favourites. They only matter when you compare yourself to other people, which means they form the structure of our social networks and most gamification.



Belong to a group. Any group.

The fans of a team. People with “UX” in their job title. People from your home country. People who fish on the weekends. People that hate people who fish on weekends.


Being part of a group (or believing we are part of it) makes us feel proud. We wear their colors, sing their songs, buy their shit, display their symbols, etc.

If your group has an opponent, you will hate that opponent. If your group has a common belief, you will hate anyone who disagrees with that belief.



Decide for yourself. Call it freedom, or autonomy, or responsibility, or authority, or control, or rebellion. One way or another you wanna be the boss, at least of yourself.

Be the best. Achievements, dominance, winning, popularity, money, talent, sexiness, or some other version of that idea, which makes you more of something than most other people.

Never move down. Remember: we are motivated to protect what we have gained. People will fight to keep their current status, even if it is made of something imaginary like points.



People should get what they deserve.

Everyone believes they deserve to be liked, even though some of us are assholes. We all agree that Hitler was an “evil” leader rather than just a leader. And we all love to see underdogs win on Britain’s Got Talent,

Justice is our emotional need for balance in the force.

The most interesting thing about Justice is that it only applies to the other motivations. If Person A has caused Person B to suffer a loss in one of the 14 motivations, we want Person A to suffer the same loss (or something equal).


As a UX Designer:

Affiliation: Allow users to belong to a group or be identified by things they have in common — like joining guilds or Liking Pages or choosing color schemes.

Status: Create a way to measure users’ actions so they can compare themselves to others — like points or followers or titles.

Justice: Have rules of conduct, or symbols of respect, or give users the power to choose champions — like Twitter manners or Reddit Gold or Kickstarter.



Go to Twitter. Try to find a profile description of a real person that does not name any group they are part of, any status they have achieved, or anything they morally believe or support.

If you find one, let me know: @JoelMarsh


Tomorrow is the final — and best — lesson about motivations. But it’s a secret.