Imagine there was a professor who specializes in persuasion, and who has developed a model which his students have used to start several million dollar companies (and in fact one BILLION dollar company: instagram).
Professor B.J.Fogg who teaches at Stanford gives this talk is a pioneer in the field of persuasive technology. He studied how computers to influence people’s behavior in the 90′s.
What’s interesting is that now – in the year 2012 – we do have the technology to influence people’s behavior, what’s often missing is the psychology.
“What’s missing is a very simple way to really understand what’s changing behavior.”
And he wants you to do a little thought experiment.
So do this now:
Imagine your mobile phone rings.
And you don’t answer it, because…
and now just jot down a couple of reasons why you didn’t answer the phone.
Do this now. What are the reasons why you didn’t answer the phone. You’ve had that experience in your life before – your phone rang and you didn’t answer. Come up with a couple of possible reasons why you didn’t answer the phone.
If you’ve done this, it will help you to understand a “formula” for behavior change – and it’s surprisingly simple.
One of the things that has to happen for us to do anything is: there needs to be a trigger.
A trigger is something that causes us to take some action, something that says: do this now.
For example, if you’re sitting at a red light and it turns green – you start driving. The green light was your trigger. If somebody sticks his hand out to you, you shake that person’s hand – that’s another example of a trigger. And of course, when your phone is ringing, that’s another example of a trigger.
If you look at the list of reasons why you didn’t answer the phone, was it anything about: you were in a meeting, you were in a shower, you were busy, or something like that.
And then there are other reasons: I was in a bad mood, I didn’t want to talk with the person who was calling, etc.
The first kinds of reasons were about ability. You weren’t able to answer the phone because you were occupied with something else.
The second groups of reason is about motivation.
For a behavior to happen, three things have to come together at once:
trigger + ability + motivation = behavior
And these three things have to happen at the exact same moment. But if any of these is missing at that moment, the behavior won’t happen.
At the same time, if you want to stop a behavior, then you just remove one of those factors: you can take away the motivation, the ability or the trigger, and people will stop doing it.
He talks about how to use these behavior design principles in technology companies, and how Facebook is a master of applying these methods.
Many of his students have used these principles to build their own companies, and many of them have made millions. Instagram for example (which was built by one of Professor Fogg’s students), was sold for $1 billion (BILLION, with a b!) this year.
This seems kind of simplistic or detached from real life, but as you can see, properly applied this is a very powerful formula that you can use in your own life and business.
Did you enjoy the talk? What are your main takeaways?
For me, it was this: put hot triggers in the path of motivated people.