I am sure you all must be aware of the sitcom, The Big Bang Theory and just like me, many of you would be an ardent fan of the show and Sheldon! Sheldon is extremely intelligent, rigidly logical and displays complete lack of social skills and commonsense and that’s what makes his character alluring.

I was watching episode "The Gothowitz Deviation” of The Big Bang Theory season 3. Without getting into details of the show and how Raj and Howard go to a Goth club, I will directly skip to the section that caught my interest.

In the episode, Penny moves in with Leonard and Sheldon is not quite liking Penny’s presence in the house, specifically because it disrupts his normal schedule and her clumsy attitude irks him no bounds. And the control freak that Sheldon is, he decides to “correct” Penny’s behavior.

Express Computers With me till now? Great! And no, this is not a TV show review, so read on ☺

After Penny clears the breakfast table, Sheldon rewards Penny with a chocolate, which she likes very much. In the subsequent days, Sheldon gives chocolates to Penny for all the things she does that constitute a correct behavior in his mind. Penny is blissfully unware of how Sheldon is playing with her subconscious mind and conditioning it to perform desired actions with positive reinforcement.

What was the result you ask? Sheldon’s trick works and he is successful in his mission. Penny subconsciously alters her behavior to suit Sheldon’s expectations, for she knows she will be duly rewarded for her actions.

If I may draw parallels here, one of the tenets of gamification is instant gratification. It rides on human psychology and the ability to influence behavior to achieve a desired goal. In the world of gamification, the user performs a desired task correctly and he/she is instantly rewarded with points. Over a period of time, the constant positive enforcement leads to tweak their behavior towards performing a certain set of desired actions.

Oh, and yes, while Sheldon is “training” Penny through gamification, Penny’s boyfriend Leonard (who is also a scientist like Sheldon), smells something fishy and asks Sheldon not to treat his girlfriend like a lab rat.

This actually brings out the flipside to gamification and instant gratification, which can sometimes be viewed as manipulation and psychological bribery.

Personally, I think it’s OK! We all need encouragements, whether big or small, a pat on our backs for our accomplishments, and this is where gamification fills in the gap. Using gamification and positive reinforcement, you can design a journey for the users and move them to where you want them to be, encourage them to perform tasks diligently, build more loyalty and engagement.

Do you also think instant gratification works in business scenarios, or you opine that it is a mistake? Let us know!


Express Computers Tahseen Taj,
Chief Digital Strategist, eMee