15 Types of Behavior Change
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –- Jim Rohn
Imagine if you could change a behavior or habit with skill.
You can use behavior design to shape your habits or lead change management efforts in work and life.
The key is to know the types of behavior changes that exist. If you know the types of behavior changes there are, you can more effectively design your behavior changes, and improve your overall change management effectiveness.
Lucky for us, Dr. BJ Fogg, has mapped out 15 types of behavior changes for us. Fogg is the director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University, and change is his game.
A Language for Types of Behavior Change
The Fogg Behavior Grid is a chart of the 15 types of behavior change. You can use the grid to think through and identify target behaviors for your change management efforts.
The grid organizes changes by frequency and whether you are starting, stopping, continuing, or amplifying or decreasing a behavior.
Here are the names of the target behaviors in terms of new, familiar, increasing, decreasing, or stopping:
- Green behavior – Do new behavior, one that is unfamiliar.
- Blue behavior – Do familiar behavior.
- Purple behavior – Increase behavior intensity or duration.
- Gray behavior – Decrease behavior intensity or duration.
- Black behavior – Stop doing a behavior.
Here are the names of the behavior changes in terms of frequency:
- Dot behavior – Is done one-time.
- Span behavior – Has duration, such as 30 days.
- Path behavior – Is done from now on, a permanent change.
When you combine these, you get a specific name for a type of behavior:
- GreenDot behavior – Do new behavior one time.
- GreenSpan behavior – Do new behavior for a period of time.
- GreenPath behavior – Do new behavior from now on.
Examples of Types of Behavior Change
To internalize the 15 types of behavior change, I needed to see the grid in a different way. I filtered the Fogg Behavior Grid down to just the examples and the key terms. This helped me parse it down to, “what type of change?” and “what’s the frequency?”
|One Time||Duration||Permanent Change|
|Do New Behavior||Install solar panels on house.||Carpool to work for three weeks.||Start growing own vegetables.|
|Do Familiar Behavior||Tell a friend about eco-friendly soap.||Bike to work for two months.||Turn off lights when leaving room.|
|Increase Behavior||Plant more trees and local plants.||Take public bus for one month.||Purchase more local produce.|
|Decrease Behavior||Buy fewer boxes of bottled water.||Take shorter showers this week.||Eat less meat from now on.|
|Stop Doing a Behavior||Turn off space heater for tonight.||Don’t water lawn during Summer.||Never litter again.|
3 Steps to Clarify Your Target Behavior
Fogg shares three ways to get precision on your target behavior for your change management efforts:
- Behavior Type – Identify your target behavior type
- Trigger – Identify how your target behavior gets triggered
- Obligation – Identify if your target behavior creates an obligation
For #1, you can use the Fogg Behavior Grid. For example, is this a GreenDot behavior, where you are doing a new behavior one time, or a BlackPath behavior where you are going to stop a behavior from now on.
For #2, you determine whether the behavior gets triggered on “Cue” or on “Cycle.”
For #3, Fogg and team calls these “Echo Behaviors.” An example would be when you sign up for a contract, or pay for a subscription that creates a monthly obligation to pay.
The Behavior Wizard
You can use the Behavior Wizard to help you navigate the Behavior Grid.
You can also explore the Behavior Grid to get more examples, relevant theories, and real-world techniques for achieving the specific behavior type.
Change is tough. Like anything, it gets easier if you know how it works. Master the fundamentals and put the 15 types of behavior change on your side, and improve your change management effectiveness.
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Image by francisco osorio.