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Fogg Behavior Model

Have you ever wondered why you do certain things? Why are some behaviors easy and joy to do while other not so? And your customers - have you ever struggled to understand their behavior?
BJ Fogg, from Stanford University, has created simple and powerful behavioral model for persuasive product design.

Fogg Behavior Model (FBM) aims to help understanding human behavior. How it occurs? What influences it? How to change it?

Here is the original paper describing the model.
Here is the website with new information and updates.

Three Factors

According to the FBM, the following three factors should be present for a behavior to appear:

  • Motivation
  • Ability
  • Trigger

For behavior to appear one should have sufficient motivation, ability and be triggered.
Those factors are subjective and depend on the environment. They can change. They can influence each other. For example, high motivation to eat a chocolate bar right now could compensate low ability to get it, as you need to walk to the shop to buy it.


What motivates us to make actions? How can you motivate others to make certain actions?
According to the FBM, three core motivators exist, and they come in pairs.

Motivator #1: Pleasure / Pain

Humans seek pleasure and try to avoid pain.

Motivator #2: Hope / Fear

Humans hope for something good and fear something bad.

Motivator #3: Social Acceptance / Rejection

Humans want to be accepted by other humans and don't want to be rejected

Those motivators could also change and influence each other. For example, fear of going to a dentist can overpower a potential pleasure of hearing good news.

Being motivated is one, but you also should be able to perform a behavior. What does it mean to "be able"? Can we measure one's ability to perform an action? And how should we design an action for one to be able to perform it?


Humans are lazy, right? That's just natural, why to do something today if you can do it tomorrow? Why do tomorrow something that you can avoid doing at all? That certainly true for me. The reward should match the effort. Otherwise, we are not likely to make it. To make us do something, it should be simple enough. Simplicity becomes the key.
According to the FBM simplicity could be split into six parts that formulate a chain (every part needs to be present):


Do I have time to do that action right now? Does it worth my time?


Can I afford it? Does it worth that much?

Physical Effort

Do I need to move my ass to do it? Can I be asked?

Brain Cycles

What does that mean? Do I really need to think about it?

Social Deviance

Would others do this? Is it weird?


Can I do that in my usual way? I always do things this way.

Coming back to a chocolate bar example: I am sitting on my couch in my living room, watching TV. At some point, a movie I am watching is being interrupted by an advert of a chocolate bar.
- I would eat some chocolate, - thought comes to my head.
Now I am motivated to get a chocolate bar. Can I get it, though? Yeah, I can, the shop is downstairs. It would take me just a couple of minutes, would cost a quid. I usually go to this store for small things, so I know the effort is minimal.
Now when I am motivated, and I am able - I would probably go and buy this chocolate bar. Would I do that if I haven't just seen a chocolate bar advert?

A trigger is something that ... well ... triggers us towards the behavior. Advert being showed, phone rings, mail received, the cat meows in the kitchen...etc.

Three Types of Triggers


trigger + motivation


trigger + ability


just a trigger

How could you use this model for making product decisions?

Understanding your customers is the key point in a product creation. You want your product to solve customer problem in the best way possible. The FBM allows you to look at your product from a psychological perspective and see where it lacks. Are your customers sufficiently motivated? Is your product easy enough to use? Do you trigger your customers in the right way?
Combining this insight with the "Hook" model - you'll be truly on the way to creating a persuasive, habitual product.

Learn more about BJ Fogg and Fogg Behavior Model:

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