How to Facilitate Long-Term Behavior Change

In short? Start small, remember that ability trumps motivation, enlist the motivated – and try to out-game Facebook.

A recent post by Stephanie Aaron at SVA’s Interaction Design blog provided us with a few insights into behavioral change,¬†following her attendance at the Healthcare Experience Design Conference. While in Stephanie’s case, these insights are specifically directed at motivating behavior changes that could lead to a healthier society (and lower healthcare spending), we feel these can also be applied to any behavior – from personal objectives to those that could scale towards broader impact. We’ve gathered some of her key observations from the conference below:

  • BJ Fogg – Director of the Standford Persuasive Technology Lab – shared his behavior grid, which identifies 15 different ways of changing behavior (we’ve previously shared this). At the conference, Fogg focused on steps towards forming a new habit:¬†1) making a tiny change (citing flossing a single tooth as an example), 2) finding a fixed point in your day to do it, 3) training the cycle (rinse & repeat), and 4) rewarding the behavior change (yay, me!)
  • The overarching point? Ability trumps motivation – putting a stake in the ground with a single, simple activity gives you an actionable start – vs. that demotivating feeling that you have no idea where to start in working towards an objective.
  • Also, when projects require the involvement and action of others, start with those that are motivated. Let their success attract others into wanting to experience the same.
  • Lastly, if you want to use game mechanics to engage people, sometimes it’s wise to keep your benchmark simple; ‘You need to be better than Facebook – for at least 5 minutes’.

BJ Fogg

SVA Interaction Design Blob: “Make a Tiny Change, Then Yell Victory!”

 

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