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Behavior change and behavior design models

Tactics that change behavior

Reminders, Cues, or Prompts
Reminders, Cues, or Prompts

Reminders, cues, and prompts are simply methods to cause someone to perform a behavior by calling their attention to it with a timely message. People have limited attention and memory, so these types of influences can be very effective when done skillfully.

The cue need not consist of written or spoken language; for example, it could be a certain melody, symbol, or pattern of lights on a connected home device. It might also be a bracelet or pattern of vibrations from a wearable device. Provided the cue or prompt is associated with the behavior, almost any sensory stimuli that is reliably perceived and interpreted may be used. That said, verbal reminders can be effective since they may be personalized with additional semantic information related to the person's context or leverage other effects (e.g. identity priming or framing effects).

Personalization
Personalization

Personalization refers to taking specific data from the individual in a behavioral intervention into account in offering a different experience vs. that given to others.

An experience may be personalized based on demographic data, psychographic data, behavioral performance, or other factors.

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.

Framing Effects
Framing Effects

A framing effect refers to changes in people's choices within a given set of options based on how the options are presented. This are typically associated with behavioral economics, as it violates utility theory's premise that people will choose according to a rational assessment of the outcome.

The most common example of this is posing a question as a loss or a gain. In several instances, people have been found to choose differently based on whether a proposition is losing lives vs saving them, an X% of infection vs. a Y% chance of immunity, etc despite the options being mathetmatically identical between the two framings.

Gamification
Gamification

Gamification refers to leveraging mechanics and other experiential elements typically associated with games in non-game contexts.

These can be fairly subtle (e.g. a progress bar for filing out a health risk questionnaire), moderate (e.g. achievements given for reaching personal finance goals, contests for steps walked as a team in a workplace wellness competition), or extreme (e.g. an augmented reality experience to treat chronic pain). At the extreme end, the distinction between a gamified experience and an actual game may be considered almost academic.

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.

Goal Setting
Goal Setting

Goal setting simply refers to a person choosing a specific result to aim at achieving. This might include an outcome (e.g. a goal weight) or a behavior (e.g. exercise 90 minutes 3 times a week).

Checklists
Checklists

Checklists are an age-old tactic for remembering to do certain tasks. Checklists are sometimes used to measure behaviors that should take place with a certain frequency, e.g. every day or X times per week, and other times, to ensure certain steps are followed every time a person does a complex behavior.

For behavior designers, the challenges of checklists often entail choosing the right behaviors, breaking them down to the correct level of granularity for a given population, and serving them up in the proper context or sometimes with personalization. They are likely underutilized and consistently improve the performance of even experts, like pilots and surgeons.

Products that change behavior

Research on behavior change