I am kinda wondering whether the clicking sound of a computer mouse has a passive or active effect like the one used in clicker trainer.

In clicker training, a trainer would use a sound cue (can also be vocal) to teach an animal that it showed the wanted behavior. This training method is used when a trainer isn't able to communicate to the animal in another way, what exact part of an execution he wants to reward.

However, when we use the computer, we are exposed to comparable cues all the time.

Does it have similar rewarding effects on humans on "normal" usage?

Is there hard- or software, that already rewards this kind of behavior? Like clicker as the paperclip game where you in summary do not much more than clicking a button over and over again?

I would also be interested on qualitative good scientific studies on this topic.

  • I don't see what would be scenario here. The user is the one choosing when to click, so... what would it be rewarding if the reward is performed unconsciounsly by the subject itself?
    – Ángel
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 22:39
  • The user is the one that eventually chooses to click, BUT, software design (e.g. game design) can trigger clicking behavior in humans. The reward of course is rather non-material in most cases, but I do still quite a bunch of scenarios where it could be used for conditioning. That's why I mentioned games where it's all about clicking.
    – kaiya
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 19:34
  • 1
    I see. So I if I was addicted to game X, where I would be continuously clicking (things) to get (points), I might then feel a reward by clicking on other computer mouse usage. I suspect that it will depend a lot on the amount of exposure. Keyboard and mouse is used for many things. So for someone who gamed a lot might have such effect, but not really for someone that used them mainly to e.g. read the mails from their customers.
    – Ángel
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


It is an interesting question, but as some others have suggested I don't think that the sound necessarily has anything to do with 'rewarding' a behaviour, since it would have originally be based on the specific mechanisms which generated a corresponding sound. And that sound has a secondary effect of providing a 'feedback' to the user that an action was performed, which if you follow good user interface design practices is something that should be incorporated into the design.

Perhaps if you are drawing inspiration from the classical conditioning experiments made famous by Ivan Pavlov, it is important to understand some of the subtle features and setup of those experiments which may or may not apply to this situation (maybe a question for Psychology & Neuroscience StackExchange).

Now there are people who can choose to buy keyboards and mouse that use different mechanisms and so they generate a more silent mechanical action and don't provide that feedback. Another example is the soft keyboard on a mobile device which you can choose to turn on or turn off the sound for. I suspect that this is more important for soft keyboards because there is no other way to get a tactile feedback so it has to be auditory or visual.

If anything, I think in games where there is a large amount of clicking involved, the sound becomes rather annoying or repetitious enough that the user might prefer to switch it off. And in games you don't need the actual feedback from the action generated by the user because you can substitute it for the result of that action (e.g. if it is a gambling app then you can play the sound of a cash register after the user clicks something, which has no relationship to the sound of a tap, a click or a press).

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