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Behavior change and behavior design models

Tactics that change behavior

Micro-Incentives
Micro-Incentives

Micro-incentives refers to small rewards, typically frequent and cash-based, given out on a per-behavior basis.

A prominent example is Wellth, a program for people with chronic illness delivered via app. Some participants are given around $2 each time they take a medication or measure their blood pressure and submit a photo.

In related studies, e.g. Petry et al. (2015), participants' compliance with these behaviors was significantly higher than those who did not receive the incentives, and the behaviors persisted several months after incentives were removed.

Micro-incentives can be layered with other reward approaches such as lotteries and non-financial incentives.

Smart Defaults
Smart Defaults

Defaults refer to what happens if a person makes no choice or goes with a pre-selected choice. The influence of defaults is a foundational component of behavioral economics.

Perhaps the most famous example of defaults is the difference between opt-in and opt-out organ donation programs. While not universal, several studies have found that the rate of organ donation consent in a population seems to be influenced by the default (i.e., what happens if a person does not check a box or change the pre-selected preference on a form).

Smart defaults do not only refer to one-off events, however. In the well-known Save More Tomorrow program, participants were not only included in a savings program by default, but the amount they saved was also changed over time automatically (again by default). Similarly, other behavior change programs have default settings that include at-home medication or food delivery, rules-based reminders on different platforms, etc.

Micro-Incentives
Micro-Incentives

Micro-incentives refers to small rewards, typically frequent and cash-based, given out on a per-behavior basis.

A prominent example is Wellth, a program for people with chronic illness delivered via app. Some participants are given around $2 each time they take a medication or measure their blood pressure and submit a photo.

In related studies, e.g. Petry et al. (2015), participants' compliance with these behaviors was significantly higher than those who did not receive the incentives, and the behaviors persisted several months after incentives were removed.

Micro-incentives can be layered with other reward approaches such as lotteries and non-financial incentives.

Rules of Thumb
Rules of Thumb

Rules of thumb refer to simplifation heuristics used in dealing with uncertainty, situations where tracking behaviors can be onerous, or areas where one-size-fits-all approaches may not be successful. They can be a useful tool to reduce the cognitive load of complying with a new behavior.

For example, a person may find it easier to "eat out at restaurants only 4 times per month" rather than "limit monthly restaurant spending to $200." Similarly, avoiding eating certain types of foods, e.g. fried foods or high-calorie drinks, may be easier to recall and comply with than hitting a daily calorie goal.

AI or Chatbot
AI or Chatbot

Using a chatbot or simulated conversational interaction.

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.

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).

Automation
Automation

Automation refers to having another person, group, or technology system perform part or all of the intended behavior.

A prominent example is Thaler & Bernartzi's Save More Tomorrow intervention, which invested a portion of employees' earnings into retirement funds automatically and even increased the contribution level to scale with pay raises. Other examples include automatically scheduling medical appointments so the patient needn't do it themselves and mailing healthy recipe ingredients to the person's home to reduce the burden of shopping.

Products that change behavior

Research on behavior change