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Behavior change and behavior design models

Tactics that change behavior

Lotteries
Lotteries

Lotteries are any form of assigning an award where there is an element of randomness or chance.

One example is a prize-linked savings account (PLSAs). One of the earliest of these was the Million a Month Account (MAMA) in South Africa, where First National Bank offered account-holders with qualifying deposits a chance to win up to one million rand each month (along with other smaller prizes given out at random).

Lotteries may be used with non-financial rewards as well, e.g. offering tickets to a sold-out play or sporting event for employees reaching certain performance benchmarks.

Motivational Interviewing
Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a therapeutic approach that aims to influence behavior by eliciting goals, motivation, insights, and specific behavioral plans through structured dialog. It's largely associated with William Miller and Stephen Rollnick, and bears some relation to the Socratic method (as does the original cognitive therapy approach). While originally developed as part of a treatment for substance abuse, the method has been generalized and found empirical support in assisting behavior change in diet, exercise, and other areas.

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).

Motivational Interviewing
Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a therapeutic approach that aims to influence behavior by eliciting goals, motivation, insights, and specific behavioral plans through structured dialog. It's largely associated with William Miller and Stephen Rollnick, and bears some relation to the Socratic method (as does the original cognitive therapy approach). While originally developed as part of a treatment for substance abuse, the method has been generalized and found empirical support in assisting behavior change in diet, exercise, and other areas.

Tracking behavior
Tracking behavior

Self-monitoring or tracking simply refers to a person measuring their behavior over time.

Often, merely tracking a behavior can influence the likelihood or frequency with which a person performs the behavior or related ones. For example, many pedometer studies increase walking activity merely by improving awareness, and many interventions that merely consist of rewarding someone for weighing themselves result in weight loss.

That said, people often find tracking behaviors tedious and lose interest after a short period, so behavior designers should seek to reduce the burden of self-monitoring by collecting information automatically or doing so in a low-cost way.

Reduce Friction or Barriers
Reduce Friction or Barriers

Reducing friction or barriers to performing a behavior is simply making it easier or removing things that may be preventing someone from doing something.

This is a foundational technique in changing behavior, and part of the UK Behavioural Insights Team's 4-point approach ("Make it easy"). That said, knowing where the friction and barriers exist may not always be straightforward, and different groups of people may experience different barriers in different contexts.

Note: It is possible to remove too much friction. In a well-popularized study, a travel booking site found that delays in loading the best deals or travel options actually increased conversions. Similarly, longer input forms in digital interactions sometimes outperform, as people may consider the results more personalized or experience greater cognitive dissonance after having invested so much time in exploring the service.

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.

Implementation Intentions
Implementation Intentions

Implementation intentions are specific details for when and how a behavior should or will be performed.

These are often formulated as ""if-then"" rules, such as:
-  "if I crave something sweet, I'll have fruit instead of candy"
- "if I am in the mood for a cigarette, I'll wait 5 minutes—then, if I still want it, I can have one"

Other examples include studies where flu vaccination uptake was higher in groups of people nudged to make more specific plans (i.e. picking a specific time and date, along with a mode of transport to a specific clinic). The same general effect was observed with voting behaviors.

These are a generally low-cost tool to slightly improve the gap between intention and performance of a behavior.

Products that change behavior

Research on behavior change