The trigger, driven by internal and external cues, informs the user of what to do next. However, if the user doesn’t take action, the trigger is useless. The action phase is the simplest behavior done in anticipation of a reward (a scroll on Pinterest, a search on Google, playing a video on Youtube). The action phase of the hook is where the habitual behavior occurs.

Remember, a habit is a behavior performed with little or no conscious thought. The more effort an action requires, the less likely it is to be performed.

If action is so important for habit formation, how can a product-designer influence users to take action?

Dr. B.J. Fogg, Director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, has developed a model to help us understand what drives our actions.

According to Fogg, for any human behavior (B), three things are necessary:

  • The user must have sufficient motivation (M)

  • The user must have sufficient ability (A)

  • The trigger must be present (T)

Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Trigger (B=MAT)

In regards to motivation, Fogg states that all humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain, to seek hope and avoid fear, and to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection.

However, even when the motivation is high and the trigger is present, product designers often find that users don’t behave the way they’re expected to.

The missing link is the ability. Or rather usability.

Today’s task
What behavior are you trying to get your customers to perform? With some help from a co-worker, analyze the behavior using Fogg’s model.


Nir Eyal

Enjoying this course? Maybe your co-workers would too? Please invite them!