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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