Designing for motivation, engagement and wellbeing in digital experience

Dorian Peters, Rafael A. Calvo, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

334 Scopus citations


Research in psychology has shown that both motivation and wellbeing are contingent on the satisfaction of certain psychological needs. Yet, despite a long-standing pursuit in human-computer interaction (HCI) for design strategies that foster sustained engagement, behavior change and wellbeing, the basic psychological needs shown to mediate these outcomes are rarely taken into account. This is possibly due to the lack of a clear model to explain these needs in the context of HCI. Herein we introduce such a model: Motivation, Engagement and Thriving in User Experience (METUX). The model provides a framework grounded in psychological research that can allow HCI researchers and practitioners to form actionable insights with respect to how technology designs support or undermine basic psychological needs, thereby increasing motivation and engagement, and ultimately, improving user wellbeing. We propose that in order to address wellbeing, psychological needs must be considered within five different spheres of analysis including: at the point of technology adoption, during interaction with the interface, as a result of engagement with technology-specific tasks, as part of the technology-supported behavior, and as part of an individual's life overall. These five spheres of experience sit within a sixth, society, which encompasses both direct and collateral effects of technology use as well as non-user experiences. We build this model based on existing evidence for basic psychological need satisfaction, including evidence within the context of the workplace, computer games, and health. We extend and hone these ideas to provide practical advice for designers along with real world examples of how to apply the model to design practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number797
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - 28 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Peters, Calvo and Ryan.


  • Design
  • Engagement
  • HCI
  • Motivation
  • Self-determination theory
  • User experience
  • Wellbeing


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