Fogg’s Behaviour Model – Forming a habit

As I look to keep up blogging for the year, I have been reading more about BJ Fogg‘s work on how to change behaviour and create a strong habit.

Fogg Behavior Model

Fogg through his research, suggests that three things must converge in order for a behaviour to occur:

Behaviour = Motivation + Ability +Trigger


Fig 1: Fogg Behavior Model (Source)

Habit: Motivation

Fogg defines motivation as coming from one of three sources and each of these sources has two sides:

  • Sensation: Pleasure or Pain
  • Anticipation: Hope or Fear
  • Belonging: Social acceptance or Social Rejection

Unsure if these are dichotomies or not at this stage. They are similar to some NLP concepts around motivation also.

Habit: Ability

The capacity of the person wanting to do the habit should be within the bounds of carrying out the habit. Fogg says there are two paths to increase ability. The first, and the hardest, is to giveth person more skill. This can be done through more training and practice. The second and more favoured option, if to make the target behaviour easier to do. He calls this simplicity and by making the target behaviour or habit more simple to do then it is more likely to happen. This idea connects to the work by Stephen Guise on Mini Habits and also that of T Falcon Napier of Institute for Productive Tension.

Habit: Triggers

Triggers are internal or external “alarms” that can be come in a number of different guises such as requests, cues, offers, prompts and calls to action. In his work Fogg defines three types of trigger:

  • Facilitator (high motivation/low ability): Making it easy for a course of action to take place.
  • Spark (high ability/low motivation): Providing a quick “pick me up” or “kick up the backside” in order for the action to take place. Classic TV advertising of “offer lasts 1 hour”sits here.
  • Signal (high ability/high motivation): Simple reminders to do something.

Applications to work

I see a ton of ways this can be applied into my work as a coach working with transformation, leaders and sales professionals and also as an Associate Lecturer working with students at the Open University. This ties in really well with my work using the Change Grid.

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