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Behavior change and behavior design models

Tactics that change behavior

Peer Mentoring
Peer Mentoring

Peer mentoring refers to having individuals with a certain lived experience guide or train others facing similar ones. It is typically considered in contrast to expert coaching, formal teaching, or management guided by a clinician or doctor.

Compare, for example, a weight loss program delivered by a registered dietician vs. group sessions led by program 'graduates' like WW (formerly Weight Watchers). Note that these two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

Financial Incentives
Financial Incentives

Financial incentives are monetary rewards given for performing a certain behavior. These come in many different varieties; for example, they may be guaranteed vs lottery-based, or group-oriented vs individually-assigned.

Commitment Devices
Commitment Devices

Commitment devices are tools that attempt to bridge the gap between a person's initial motivation to perfrom the behavior and the typical pattern of noncompliance as time goes on.

One prominent example is the "Ulysses Pact," where Filipino banking customers were offered the option to enroll in an account where their ability to make withdrawals would be limited. In a study by Ashraf and Karlan (2005), participants with the commitment account saved 81% more than those with typical accounts.

There are many other examples of commitment devices. Temptation bundling is a form of commitment device where people only engage in an enjoyable activity when it's simultaneous with an activity they intend to do more (for example, only listening to a certain podcast or audiobook while walking on a treadmill).

Pre-paying for a service is a basic form of commitment device, and one used by Dan Ariely when he intended to increase his fruit and vegetable consumption. He paid for a year of biweekly deliveries from a local CSA program up-front.

Environmental Restructuring
Environmental Restructuring

Environmental restructuring refers to modifying the physical environment around someone in order to influence their behavior.

On the less intensive end, this could be as simple as having someone leave a pill bottle in a more obvious location or switch to using a pillbox with compartments for each day. More complex examples include carpooling potential voters to election sites to improve turnout, redesigning a workplace cafeteria layout to bias toward healthier foods, or setting up booths for influenze vaccination in offices or shopping malls.

Behavior Substitution
Behavior Substitution

Behavior substitution refers to attempting to eliminate a problematic behavior by replacing it with another one.

Often, the substituted behaviors are intended to have similar sensory qualities (e.g. drink flavored sparkling water instead of soda). The goal is typically to disassociate the original behavior from its cue, enabling the more positive behavior to be triggered automatically.

AI or Chatbot
AI or Chatbot

Using a chatbot or simulated conversational interaction.

Social Benchmarking
Social Benchmarking

Social benchmarking refers to comparing a person's behavior, trends, or status to others. Often, merely providing data on others can change behavior by leveraging social norms.

For example, letters comparing homeowners' use of electricity with peers were found to significantly reduce the amount of energy used by high-consumption households compared to non-comparison messages.

Tracking cognitions or emotions
Tracking cognitions or emotions

Tracking cognitions or emotions (often both) refers to a person recording when they have certain thoughts or feelings. The person might note every time they experience a given thought or specific feeling whenever it comes up, or alternatively simply keep a diary of any notable thoughts or feeling at pre-determined times. Often, this also includes noting what triggered or occured before or alongside these thoughts and emotions.

Many therapuetic approaches utilize this tool, even if only for brief periods, to help a system, clinician, or patient better understand the patterns around their thoughts and feelings. Often, this data is integrated into additional behavior change approaches, like behavioral activation or implementation intentions.

Products that change behavior

Research on behavior change