What it is:
The Fogg Behavior Model (FBM) is a way to understand what drives behavior.
We normally assume that every decision / action is based on a solid rationale. That’s usually true, but that’s not enough. To overcome the inertia of inaction, you need something more. Enter the FBM.
At the heart of FBM is an equation:
Behavior = Motivation * Ability * Trigger
Thus, driving a behavior is not about just providing Motivation. You also need Ability (e.g., ease in terms of time, money, effort, routine vs. non-routine). And you need to Trigger the behavior – with a cue, prompt, or call-to-action.
Examples in business:
- Marketing: Your customer value proposition (motivation) is not enough to drive a sale. You also need to make it super-simple to say Yes, as I found when trying to sell toilets in rural Bihar (see point 3 in article).
- Design: Having the most important features in your app isn’t enough. You need to make them easy to access (Hick’s Law – anything more than 2 clicks away won’t get done), with a clear call-to-action (Fitt’s Law – the big red button always wins).
- Productivity: The reverse also works. If you want to stop checking FB on your phone at work, make it difficult to access – log out so you’ll need to enter the password next time. And remove visual cues – take it off your home screen.
Rules to follow:
- When you’re persuading a buyer, don’t just focus on why they should buy. Make it easy for them to say yes (e.g., easy, low-risk payment terms), and then trigger the sale (e.g., social proof, limited time offers).
- If you want to break a habit, just make it hard to do. And remove all cues from the environment.
- BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model website
- The Hook Model by Nir Eyal uses the FBM to delve further into habits
- Switch, a great book on behavior change, illustrates a similar model
Filed Under: Psychology and Human Behavior