PsychNology Journal, Volume 7, Number 3, 303 - 324

Usability studies: to meet or not to meet intrinsic motivation

Olga V. Smyslova
MIND Lab Moscow, Russia


Alexander E. Voiskounsky
Psychology Department, Moscow State University, and Institute of Cognitive Studies, National Research Center “Kurchatov Institute”, Russia



Сontrolling the users’ motivation can significantly improve the efficiency and prognostic value of usability studies. The distinction between the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation plays a decisive role in computer-related activities. A well-developed theory of flow experience, introduced by M. Csikszentmihalyi within the school of positive psychology, is intimately related to intrinsic motivation. Researchers intensively explore flow experience in various types of human-computer interaction. The authors’ earlier results referring to computer hackers’ motivation are discussed, and the model of hackers’ motivational development is presented. These findings suggest productive hints on software users’ motivational development, and can be applied in usability studies. Longitudinal usability research projects prove to be reliable in acquiring information about long-term use of newly-developed or updated software products. Specifically, longitudinal research projects would benefit, if the Experience Sampling Method is used. Methodology is discussed, aimed at development of software products which facilitate users’ flow experience, and possibly long-term use of these products.



usability, software development, motivation, intrinsic motivation, emotion, longitudinal study, flow experience, hackers’ motivation, experience sampling method.


Smyslova, O., V., & Voiskounsky, A., E. (2009). Usability studies: to meet or not to meet intrinsic motivation. PsychNology Journal, 7(3), 303 – 324. Retrieved [month] [day], [year], from

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