Behavior Engineering

June 28, 2012
Nir Eyal NirAndFar.com @nireyal

Who is this for?

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The frustrated creator

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Me

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Patterns

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“OMG? businesses”

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Vitamins or painkillers?

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Selling painkillers

- Obvious need - stop pain - Quantifiable market - Monetizable

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Selling vitamins

- Emotional need, not efficacy - “Makes me feel good knowing...” - Unknown market

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Vitamins or painkillers?

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Habit when not doing causes pain.
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Habit-forming technology
Pleasure seeking Pain alleviation

Vitamin

Painkiller

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Behavior engineering is a Super Power ... can be used for good or evil.
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Access + Speed + Data High addictive potential

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Habits > Viral
Leaky Bucket
K >1
Viral Coefficient (K)
Spammy apps Facebook, Paypal, Pinterest

Rocket Ship

Garbage
K<1

Commitment Business
Evernote, Pandora, Amazon

Low
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High
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Habit Potential

Desire engines create habits

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The Desire Engine
Trigger
External Internal

Action

Commitment

Var. Reward

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High habit potential
- Fast cycles - Frequent revolutions

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Trigger

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Trigger Examples
External Alarms Advertising Calls-to-action Emails Stores What to do next is in the trigger
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Internal Emotions Routines Situations Places People What to do next is in the user’s head
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Negative emotions are powerful internal triggers
Dissatisfied Indecisive Lost Tense Fatigued Inferior
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Boredom Lonesome Fear Confusion Powerlessness Discouraged
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Action

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when doing < thinking = action
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Fogg Behavior Model B = m.a.t.
motivation triggers

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ability

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Factors of ability
Time Money Physical effort Brain cycles Social deviance Non-routine

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ability

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Motivators for Behavior
Sensation Anticipation Social Cohesion Seek: Pleasure Hope Acceptance Avoid: Pain Fear Rejection

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motivation

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How likely is the intended action?

B = m.a.t.
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Sufficient motivation, high ability, clear triggers

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Behaviors to actions with cross-functional teams
motivation = marketing triggers = interface design

ability = product
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Variable Reward

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We crave predictability
• Variable rewards
drive us nuts

• Compulsion to make
sense of cause and effect drives the search

• Dopamine system
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Curious by nature

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The search for rewards
the Tribe the Hunt
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the Self
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Search for Social Rewards
the Tribe
- Acceptance - Sex - Power

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Search for Resources
the Hunt
- Food - Money - Information

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Search for Sensation
the Self
- Mastery - Consistency - Competency - Purpose

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Tribe, Hunt, or Self?

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Tribe, Hunt, or Self?

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Tribe, Hunt, or Self?

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• Searching, searching and
never done
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Var Rewards Levers

• Type • Frequency • Amplitude
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Commitment

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Commitment
• Where user does a
bit of “work.”

• “Pays” with

something of value: time, money, social capital, effort, data ...

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Little commitments, big results
Group 1: 83% refused Group 2: 76% accepted

Freedman @nireyal& Fraser, 1966

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The crazy logic of commitment
Credit to Jesse Schell

• Should I ‘spend’ (time, money, effort ...) on
this? Is it good? not good.

• Only an idiot would ‘spend’ on something • Since I spent on it before and I am not an
idiot, it must be good.
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Paying and subscribing are not actions. They are results of engagement. - Gabe Zichermann

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Commitments are about future rewards that make the next action more likely.
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Cycles over time
Increase motivation and difficulty of action

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