By April 13, 2013 8 Comments Read More →

15 Types of Behavior Change

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“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.

Here are my notes from taking a look at some of Fogg’s work including the Fogg Behavior Grid and the Behavior Wizard and how they can be used to change a habit and for driving change management.

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:

  1. Green behavior – Do new behavior, one that is unfamiliar.
  2. Blue behavior – Do familiar behavior.
  3. Purple behavior – Increase behavior intensity or duration.
  4. Gray behavior – Decrease behavior intensity or duration.
  5. Black behavior – Stop doing a behavior.

Here are the names of the behavior changes in terms of frequency:

  1. Dot behavior – Is done one-time.
  2. Span behavior – Has duration, such as 30 days.
  3. Path behavior – Is done from now on, a permanent change.

When you combine these, you get a specific name for a type of behavior:

  1. GreenDot behavior – Do new behavior one time.
  2. GreenSpan behavior – Do new behavior for a period of time.
  3. 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:

  1. Behavior Type – Identify your target behavior type
  2. Trigger – Identify how your target behavior gets triggered
  3. 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.

Posted in: Change, Motivation

8 Comments on "15 Types of Behavior Change"

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  1. Evan says:

    Well, actually sometimes it does get better by chance. I wouldn’t recommend relying on chance as a strategy though.

    I really like that classification, thanks JD

    • JD says:

      Fogg and team are doing a great job of simplifying behavior change and making it actionable.

      I like the simplicity. While I may not remember the colors off the top of my head, I can remember how to think about the types of change and duration.

  2. My reflexive response when I saw the post’s title was, oh my, that’s a long list to consume. However, the ability to create a grid makes all fifteen consumable. And it resonates. GREAT opening quote & paragraphs. Whether we’re in a good place or not, the ability to exercise the power to change ourselves through our thoughts & actions–by our choices–is possibly the most powerful ability we have. And to be able to learn to do so with skill is amazing!

    • JD says:

      Well put.

      Our results and our journey are really the by-product of the choices we make in the challenges we face to create the changes we seek.

      One of the best things we can do for the road ahead is master our change management skills.

  3. Viv says:

    Hi JD,
    I like the way you reconstructed the behavior grid. It’s so much clearer and easier to digest.
    While going through the examples, something struck my mind. I thought of incorporating a different behavior type daily as part of my 3 daily wins.
    To me this looks feasible especially from the “one time” activities. Can’t wait to try this out to see if it’s actually sustainable.

    • JD says:

      That’s a great way to connect the dots. Plugging it into a daily system is a great way to test and adopt changes.

      Friday Reflection is then a good way to follow up and check what’s working and what’s not.

  4. Galen Pearl says:

    If you are serious about changing behavior, it helps to have a practical plan and a way to measure progress, both of which this provides. If you spend a little time getting familiar with the system, I can see that it would be very helpful.

    • JD says:

      You hit the nail on the head — it actually all starts with being serious about change. Without motivation, change efforts fail.

      The beauty of the continuum of change, is that we can structure our success, and stack the deck in our favor.

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