So, do you take the stairs or escalator?
Rushed for time, or wanting to lose weight to be more accepted by friends?
Does painting the stairs like a piano trigger a different behaviour?
Painting a simple fly in a urinal reduces “spillage” by 80%… good behaviour can be triggered easily.
Whether you are a new General Manager finding ways to get your team to improve performance, or a brand manager seeking ways for customers to adopt your product, we are all in the behaviour influencing game.
The critical research in this area has been completed by Stanford researcher BJ Fogg. He is the founder of Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab. Fogg has distilled the behaviour influencing methodology developed into an simple elegant diagram.
In its simplest terms, Fogg’s model can be expressed in the equation b=mat. A behaviour, (he postulates) is the result of three components, Motivation of the person, Ability of the person and an external or internal Trigger— that are all present at the same moment. The basic dynamic is that if a behaviour is difficult to do then the motivation must be high, for a person to be willing to do something a bit more difficult than their ability allows— given an appropriate trigger. Similarly, if a behaviour is easy to do, therefore a persons ability is high, then the motivation for the action can be relatively low, again, assuming their is a sufficient prod or trigger in place.
There are two main secrets that Fogg expressed. As you can see in the chart above, effective triggers must be above the action threshold line in order to be effective. Prompting someone to do something that is too difficult for them is very frustrating and nudging someone to do something that they are not motivated to do is just annoying.
So what are the critical abilities that make behaviour likely to happen. Fogg thinks there are 6 key abilities that influence whether something is easy to do…
People assess whether something is easy to do based on
so taking the stairs or the escalator could be a function of time or physical effort.
The goal with each of these “Elements of Simplicity” is to minimize them as much as possible. You want to design quick and physically/mentally easy behaviors that don’t cost a lot of money or violate any social norms. This can be easier said than done.
Similarly, there are 6 key motivators in deciding whether to do something
And the triggers are
Looking back at the urinal, the fly is an excellent trigger- we have the motivation and the ability… we just need a simple trigger for good behaviour.
What triggers are part of your marketing mix – a sign, a price sticker, a notice. What else could you do, what else do other companies do?
From my interpretation, what doesn’t show up in the graph is a simple fact of human nature: it is much more effective to make a task easier than it is to try to boost someone’s motivation. And we should always take this approach to influencing behaviour.
The implication of this is that the path of least resistance is to tap into people’s existing motivations and make the particular behaviour you want easier to achieve. A simple example if to make the cost of something cheaper, enabling more people to buy it.
An easy industry example of this comes from Instagram. People were already sharing photos online, but Instagram made it easier (increased people’s ability to share), more fun (increased motivation by seeking pleasure or avoiding social rejection) and provided social triggers (for example seeing friends’ photos on Facebook posted form Instagram, for instance) that encouraged engagement.
So, if you are seeking to influence behaviour, here are three easy steps
And if you look at the gradual addition of features to for example Instagram you will find that they all answer these type of questions: will this trigger the user to take or share more pictures, will it make the process easier or faster, will it be more fun and fulfilling for the user and their friends?
While I agree that one should focus on triggering behaviour and making that behaviour easier; to get a real change in behaviour- from breaking a current habit to starting a new habit- I don’t think focusing on triggering and making things easier to do is sufficient. To change ingrained behaviour you really need to understand the motivations of the current behaviours and find a better motivation to support your behaviour.
I think I’ve been using this approach for a while but its great to have it explained clearly and simply and enable me to think through persuasion process to ensure its complete.