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March 3, 2021

BJ Fogg's Behavior Model

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I love thinking about behavior change, and in the coaching and programming I offer it’s the majority of what I teach. I wanted to share how my philosophies are very much based on what I’ve learned from others who have pioneered the space, one of those people being the legendary psychologist BJ Fogg.

BJ Fogg’s behavior change model is a formula: B=MAT. Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Trigger.

To talk about each of those elements one by one:

The behavior is the activity you do. Good or bad, the activity is dictated by the other parts of the formula, which holds the keys to positive behavior change.

Motivation is your desire to do it. It’s how appealing a reward or incentive is at the end of doing the behavior, and the source of that motivation has both extrinsic and intrinsic forms.

Ability is how possible it is that you can do the behavior in this moment. You need access to the resources required, the physical capabilities to do it, and the time necessary to complete it. That all is bundled into ability.

And last is the trigger. Something needs to prompt you to take action. As Nir Eyal puts it, It could be an internal trigger which originates from your own feelings, positive and negative, as well as external triggers and the various ways you’re notified of the happenings around you. 

Put it all together and you have your reason to take the action, the realistic possibility of taking the action right now, and the prompt to take the action. All of these components are present in obvious and non-obvious ways, and you can learn a lot from being curious about how they play a role in the different behaviors you engage in throughout the day.

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