Interview with BJ FOGG about his Behavior Wizard


It was an interesting chat with BJ this week. We chatted for a bit about motivation being the toughest element to work on with someone. He had said the two things you work on to change behavior first are triggers and making something more simple or easier to do more of what they are already doing. In other words if someone has enough of motivation but a low ability then you can trigger them by using a certain trigger to make it EASIER for them to do it. If they have high ability but low motivation then you can try to trigger them with a spark to motivate them.

The thing he said which is hardest is to deal with motivation. He said that is the last thing you try with people because its messy and has so much complexity to it. Its much easier to get someone who’s motivated to do something but money, time, physical effort, brain cycles, anxiety, and two others are in their way that make ABILITY low for them. So I could take a runner who runs 3x’s a week and trigger him to run more if he really wants to but just needs greater ABILITY to do it. If I deal with the constraints then its easier to get him to do it because motivation is there but ability is not. However if ability is high but motivation is not there that is REALLY much harder to work with.

When i have clients highly motivated its much easier to work with them because then I just tackle ABILITY. if they have low motivation its a waste of my time to even bother.

So it was an interesting discussion. He talked about how people form mental constructs from previous experiences. They have a bad experience with a spider then they are afraid of spiders now. Versus people who like insects and like to keep spiders as pets because they have no bad experience with them so therefore they associate something else to a spider other than fear.

Experiences in other words form the basis of our belief system and attitudes. Have an experience, form a belief and value, which forms an attitude about something. His point was attitudes are harder to change because they are formed from experiences, beliefs and values. Behavior is easier to work with because you just deal with behavior. In other words catch someone flying a kite then go help them find more ways to fly more kites or enter into competitions or go on a kite adventure versus people who had a bad kite experience and were injured and now they have low interest in kites.

Another example is trying to convince someone of your value. If someone doesn’t get the value quickly its best to move on because convincing people of our value is hard unless we take the time to demonstrate it through experiences they have with us. That can be quite tiring. I know I spent a lot of my life trying to convince people to change their minds about my value and it was a waste of time. Who I needed to convince was me and that’s all that mattered.

So for you an example would be I would send you a trigger about getting a chair. Its something you already identified you need/want and when need/want come together then finances get freed up suddenly to make that happen. Want alone can get people to spend but NEED has to be there if disposable income is tight. it overrides their other values or alternatives like bills or other obligations. So rather than send you triggers about a couch or computer desk I would send you triggers about chairs. Send you price discounts, coupons, pictures of chairs, reviews, etc. Then I would make it easier for you to get the chair by shipping it to you pre-assembled. I only looked at your behavior — surgery,searching on google for chair sites, change at workplace with different role. The main trigger was surgery and work place responsibilities changing. Before you had low motivation for a chair but now these events influenced it automatically. Had I tried to change your motivation before it would have been quite difficult. Now that its there all I have to do is focus on triggers, and making it as easy as possible for you to get the best chair by focusing on time to get chair, cost of it, transport of it(physical effort,and making it so you don’t have to think much about it before making your decision.

To make this approach to behavior change clearer and more useful, Bj’s team has created the Behavior Wizard and Resource Guides for each of the 15 types of behavior change. Each guide gives more examples, explains relevant theories, and highlights real-world techniques for achieving the specific behavior type.

The Behavior Wizard generates these Resource Guides, drawing on the ever-improving content my team creates (it’s like wikipedia for specific types of behavior change). This is a big project, and I’m doing it with a talented team: Jason Hreha, Robin Krieglstein, Gaju Krishna, and Kara Chanasyk. We are now seeking new people to join us.

Okay, back to behavior change insights . . .

Two More Steps to Clarify Target Behaviors
After you identify your target behavior type, you can take two more steps for deeper understanding. First, you can identify how your target behavior gets triggered. Specifically, is the target behavior on “Cue” or on “Cycle”? (We explain more in the Resource Guides.)

Next, you should see if your target behavior creates an obligation. He calls these “Echo Behaviors.” For example, signing a contract for mobile phone service is an Echo Behavior, because it creates a monthly obligation to pay. Not only are you signing a contract — a Dot Behavior, because it happens one time — you are also committing to pay each month, making it also an Echo Behavior. That’s different from a simple Dot Behavior, such as donating to the Red Cross. The donation doesn’t create an ongoing commitment. Note that any of the 15 types can also be Echo Behaviors. (Again, he explains more in the Resource Guides.)

I found this really useful in understanding how to move people down the conversion funnel. All in all a great resource to use.

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    Experiences in other words form the basis of our belief system and attitudes.

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